Annex F: An international comparison of crime classification structures
To help inform future decisions on the way that recorded crime could be categorised in Scotland, a comparison of the approach to classifying and presenting crimes in other countries was carried out. The selection of comparator countries was not the result of scientific analysis, but instead based on pragmatic reasons such as our immediate neighbours, countries of a similar size to Scotland, those with a single police force, and some that were considered either influential or interesting.
In summary, there is no standard 'one size fits all' solution for crime classification – largely, every country has a unique structure for classifying crime.
Generally, the rationale for the particular structure of crime classification in each country is to simplify and ease understanding of the statistics, taking into account the views of their users and the specific structure of each country's body of legislation. This helps explain why there is such variety across the different countries.
- England and Wales and Northern Ireland are the only countries to adopt a split between victim based crime, and crimes against society. Sweden has a classification of crimes against the person, but this only covers crimes such as violence and sexual offences, but not theft and other victim based crime.
- Both Sweden and Denmark split their crime groups by those against their main penal code and those against other laws. However, one prominent difference to note is that Denmark treats drugs offences within its penal code, whereas Sweden it is out with.
- Some countries include sexual offences within their violence category (e.g. Sweden, USA, Canada), and others treat it separately (e.g. England & Wales, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand).
- Only Australia and New Zealand separate the classification of homicide from other violence, whereas all of the other countries treat all violent crime together.
- Some countries have a separate classification for robbery (e.g. England & Wales, Australia, New Zealand), whereas the others do not, with Sweden and Denmark treating it as part of property/theft, and USA and Canada treating it as part of violence.
- Several countries treat drug offences as a separate classification within the main body of their crimes (e.g. England & Wales, Denmark, USA, Canada, New Zealand). However, as previously mentioned, Sweden treats drug offences under other laws, and Australia does not publish them at all.
- Traffic/motor vehicle offences are only published in Canada as part of the main body of crimes, with it being included under other laws in Sweden, and not reported at all as part of recorded crime in the rest.
Simplified breakdown of crime classification by country
England & Wales / Northern Ireland
Violence against the person offences
Criminal damage and arson
Other Crimes Against Society
Possession of weapons offences
Public order offences
Miscellaneous crimes against society
Crimes Against The Penal Code
Crimes Against Person (incl. violence & sexual offences)
Crimes Against Property (incl. theft & fraud)
Crimes Against the Public
Crimes Against the State
Other Laws (incl. traffic & drugs)
Crimes of Violence
Offence Against Property
Other Offences (incl. Against the Public/State & Drugs)
Violent Crime (incl. sexual offences)
Violent Crime (incl. sexual assault & robbery)
Other Criminal Code Offences
Criminal Code Traffic Violations
Unlawful entry with intent (UEWI)
Motor vehicle theft (MVT)
Homicide & Related Offences
Acts Intended to Cause Injury
Sexual Assault & Related Offences
Dangerous or Negligent Acts Endangering Persons
Abduction, Harassment & Offences Against A Person
Robbery, Extortion & Related Offences
Unlawful Entry with Intent/Burglary, Break & Enter
Theft & Related Offences
Fraud, Deception & Related Offences
Illicit Drug Offences
Prohibited & Regulated Weapons & Explosives Offences
Property Damage & Environmental Pollution
Public Order Offences
Offences Against Justice Procedures, Government Security & Government Operations