Coronavirus (COVID-19): Scottish Crime and Justice Survey - return to interviewing

Information on the recommencement of the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS) following the suspension of all Scottish Government face-to-face interviewing, including the SCJS, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in March 2020.

This document is part of a collection

Why the SCJS was suspended and the impact has this had on Scotland’s crime statistics

The SCJS and all other Scottish Government face-to-face interviewing was suspended on 17 March 2020 to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The last SCJS results produced from interviews which took place before the suspension came into force were published in March 2021, and covered 2019/20 (and biennial self-completion results for 2018/19 and 2019/20 combined). These results were not significantly impacted by the suspension of face-to-face interviewing due to COVID-19 (note the SCJS fieldwork typically begins in April and runs for 12 months).

To fill the evidence gap created by the suspension of the SCJS on the extent and prevalence of crime in Scotland during the pandemic we ran a new standalone survey of experiences and perceptions of crime, safety and policing in Scotland during the COVID-19 pandemic – the Scottish Victimisation Telephone Survey (SVTS) 2020. More information on the SVTS can be found on the survey’s webpage.

No SCJS interviews were conducted in 2020/21 and therefore there will not be any SCJS results for that year.

When the SCJS will return, and what it will look like

We plan to restart interviews in November 2021 operating a knock-to-nudge approach to begin with and then moving to in-home face-to-face interviewing when it is considered safe to do so. Respondents will be given the option to complete their interview over the phone if they prefer.

Knock-to-nudge involves an interviewer knocking on the door of a randomly selected household and asking the selected adult to take part in an interview over the phone or by video. It does not involve an interviewer entering the respondent’s home.

The self-completion section of the SCJS (on drug use, partner abuse, sexual victimisation, and stalking and harassment) is usually completed by the respondent confidentially using the interviewer’s laptop. This will remain the case for face-to-face interviews (in a covid-secure way i.e. the laptop will be wiped down before and after use by the respondent), however we plan to introduce the option to complete this section through a web-based survey when the respondent has completed the main survey over the phone.

The questionnaire content

The majority of the questions in the survey will remain the same as they were previously however some changes will be made. For example, the questionnaire will include updated policing module questions (that were planned for inclusion in the 2020/21 survey) and a new question on whether the respondent is a veteran. Some questionnaire development will also be required to make the survey compatible with telephone interviewing, for example adapting the use of show cards used to answer questions.

When the findings of the survey will be published

Interviews are expected to run for around 12 months from November 2021 and therefore it is anticipated that findings from the 2021/22 SCJS will be published in mid-2023.

Comparability with previous SCJS years

Whilst a key aim of the survey is for it to form part of the SCJS time series, it must be acknowledged that there is a risk this will not be possible.

Conducting a mixed-mode SCJS provides an opportunity to learn about how survey modes work together and compare. However, whilst mitigating actions will be taken wherever possible, there are a number of risks associated with telephone interviewing, in particular. For example, there can be greater bias in those who choose to take part by telephone and response rates are known to be significantly lower than with in-person interviewing.

The response rate for face-to-face interviews since COVID-19 is largely unknown and may be affected by changes in people’s willingness to invite an interviewer into their home.

All these factors impact on the quality of the data and the ability to compare SCJS results. Therefore, although a central aim, it may not be possible to compare 2021/22 results to the SCJS time series.


To provide any feedback on the SCJS, or to request further information, please use the following contact details:



SCJS Project Team
Area 2G North
Victoria Quay

Telephone: 0131 244 3012

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