Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2021/22

A National Statistics Publication for Scotland.

Scotland’s Chief Statistician today released the main findings of the 2021/22 Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS).

The 2021/22 Scottish Crime and Justice survey shows that the overall level of crime and the likelihood of being a victim of crime has fallen over the last 15 years or so. The survey finds the volume of crime in Scotland, including incidents not reported to the police, has fallen by 53% since 2008/09.

Most adults were not victims of any crime in 2021/22 and victimisation has become less common over the last 15 years or so. The proportion of adults experiencing crime decreased from one-in-five (20.4%) to one-in-ten (10.0%) between 2008/09 and this latest year (2021/22).

The latest findings also show that people feel safer in their local communities, although there has been a fall in confidence in the police across a range of measures.

The extent and prevalence of crime in Scotland in 2021/22

There were an estimated 494,000 crimes in 2021/22, of which 360,000 (73%) were property crimes and 133,000 (27%) were violent crimes. Since 2008/09 property crime has halved (down 51%) whilst violent crime has fallen by 58% over the same time period.

Most adults (90%) experienced no crime in 2021/22. The SCJS estimates that the proportion of adults experiencing crime has fallen from around one-in-five in 2008/09 (20.4%) to one-in-ten in 2021/22 (10%), including a fall from 11.9% since the last SCJS in 2019/20.

Consistent with previous years, the majority of violent incidents were cases of minor assault resulting in no or negligible injury (69%), with instances of serious assault (2%) and robbery (7%) remaining relatively uncommon.

In 2021/22, 8.7%% of adults were estimated to have been a victim of property crime and 1.7% of adults a victim of violent crime, down from 9.3 percentage points and 2.4 percentage points respectively.

Victims of two or more incidents (3% of adults) accounted for over half (59%) of all crime in 2021/22.

Crime continues to be experienced disproportionately among some groups in the population.

The likelihood of experiencing crime in 2021/22 was higher among those aged 16 to 24, for adults who are disabled, those living in the 15% most deprived areas and urban areas of Scotland, and lowest for those aged 60 and over.

Many population groups have seen the likelihood of experiencing any crime and property crime decrease since 2008/09.

The proportion of adults in Scotland estimated to have experienced crime was similar to that in England and Wales (10.0% compared to 10.4%). This differs from the position in 2019/20 where adults in Scotland were less likely to have experienced crime, with 11.9% being victims compared to 13.3% in England & Wales.

Public perceptions of the police, the justice system and crime in Scotland

Nearly half of adults (49%) said the police in their local area do an excellent or good job. This is a decrease from 61% in 2012/13 and from 55% in 2019/20. Victims of crime and those living in the 15% most deprived areas of Scotland were less likely to feel positively about the police than comparator groups

The survey also looks at attitudes towards, and experiences of, more specific elements of policing (including policing effectiveness, community engagement and fairness). Most adults expressed confidence in the local police force's capability across various aspects of police 'effectiveness,' including their ability to handle incidents as they happen and solve crimes. An exception was in preventing crime where 46% of adults were confident in the police. These measures of confidence in police effectiveness decreased from a high in 2014/15.

Generally the public were fairly confident about the operation of the justice system in Scotland. For example, three-quarters of adults were confident that the justice system allows all those accused of crimes to get a fair trial regardless of who they are. However, adults were less confident on other related measures, for example, 41% were confident that it gives sentences which fit the crime, with 54% saying they were not confident.

Three-quarters (76%) of respondents thought that the local crime rate had stayed the same or reduced in the two years prior to interview, up from 73% in 2019/20 and 69% in 2008/09. In 2021/22, the majority of adults in Scotland said they felt very or fairly safe walking alone in their local area after dark (76%) and when in their home alone at night (96%).

Despite the overall positive trends observed among different groups over time, there remained significant variations in the levels of perceived safety among population groups in 2021/22. For example, whilst more females and people living in the most deprived areas of Scotland felt more safe in 2021/22 than 15 or so years ago, they were still less likely to feel safe than males and people living in the rest of Scotland, respectively. Furthermore, disabled people were less likely to feel safe than non-disabled people, as were victims compared to non-victims and people living in an urban area compared to a rural area.

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the SCJS

No survey was conducted for the 2020/21 reporting year due to COVID-19. To fill the evidence gap created by the suspension of the SCJS, the Scottish Victimisation Telephone Survey (SVTS) was developed. More information on the background and findings from this survey can be found on the SVTS website.

The 2021/22 SCJS is the latest annual survey, following the restart of fieldwork in November 2021. Fieldwork was undertaken in line with public health measures in place at the time and, therefore, contained a mix of remote and face-to-face interviewing. The Scottish Government commissioned research to explore whether the change in approach to interviewing had an impact on the comparability of the findings. On the basis of this research, the 2021/22 survey year has been deemed comparable with previous year and the decision has been taken to maintain the National Statistics designation. This full report, titled ‘Scottish Crime and Justice Survey: Analysing the effects of using a mixed-mode approach to adapt to COVID-19 challenges’, can be read on the supplementary documents page.


The figures released today were produced in accordance with professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

The full statistical publication is available on the Scottish Government website.

This report covers 5,600 face to face interviews conducted between November 2021 and December 2022. Participants were adults (aged 16 and over) living in private households in Scotland. There was a 47.3% response rate which is the lowest response rate for any SCJS survey since 2008/09.

No survey was conducted for the 2020/21 reporting year due to COVID-19. The 2021/22 SCJS is the latest annual survey, following the restart of fieldwork in November 2021.

Due to the suspension, Scotland introduced the Scottish Victimisation Telephone Survey. This standalone survey focused on crime experiences, safety, and policing perceptions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Findings from the SVTS 2,700 telephone interviews conducted in September and October 2020 can be found here.

The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey is one of the Scottish Government’s flagship national surveys. The survey allows the people of Scotland to independently report their experiences and perceptions of crime, and thus influence the continued development and improvement of the Scottish justice system. The SCJS also provides a range of additional information, including details on the characteristics of victims and offenders of crime. It also captures adults’ perceptions of policing and the justice system.

The publication presents statistics on the extent of crime in Scotland, importantly including crime that is not reported to the police. However, it is limited to crimes against adults resident in households, and also does not cover all crime types. Experiences of sexual offences are not included in the main estimates and are instead collected in the self-completion section. Police recorded crime is a measure of those crimes reported to the police and recorded by them as a crime or offence.

This year, we included information on the victimisation rate and experiences of disabled people for the first time as well as new analysis based on the veteran status of respondents based on the introduction of a new question.

More information about the survey, including the online data tables for 2021/22 results are available on the Scottish Government website.

Further breakdowns for some smaller population groups are also being published on perception of crime in the local area from the Scottish Survey Core Questions, which combines data from the three large Scottish Government household surveys. These breakdowns are available on the Scottish Survey Core Questions webpage.

As with all surveys, SCJS results are estimates, not precise figures. Results are only described as ‘increases’ or ‘decreases’ where statistical tests identify statistically significant differences. Where they do not detect significant change, results are reported as showing ‘no change’ – even if the estimate from one year appears greater or smaller than the comparator year. Importantly, this does not mean there has definitely been no change, but that the sample is not large enough to confidently detect any change that has or has not occurred. These issues are common to all population surveys, particularly on issues that affect only a minority of people. Often, where changes and trends emerge, they can be more easily detected over longer time periods, as cumulative changes build year-on-year.

The SCJS is the data source for three National Indicators for Scotland's National Performance Framework - crime victimisation rate, perceptions of local crime rate, and access to justice.

Official statistics are produced by professionally independent statistical staff. Further information on Crime and Justice statistics within Scotland or the standards of official statistics in Scotland can be found on the Scottish Government website.


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