Criminal Proceedings in Scotland 2015-16

Summary of proceedings dealt with by courts, sentencing outcomes and characteristics of convicted offenders.

Annex D: Definitions, Classifications and Notation

D.1 The measures available to a court in sentencing a convicted person depend on a number of matters including what Parliament has legislated for in terms of appropriate penalties and the age of the person.

D.2 In some cases, if the court obtains evidence that the accused is suffering from a mental disorder, they can be assessed as unfit for trial, or acquitted because they were not criminally responsible at the time of the offence with a mental health disposal being issued by the court.

Custodial sentences

D.3 In 2015-16 the custodial sentence measures available to courts, that we have statistics for, included the options to:

a. Imprison the convicted person (if aged 21 or over); sentence to a Young Offenders' Institution (YOI) (if aged 16 to 21 and not a child subject to compulsory supervision); or, if the convicted person has been released on licence/ under supervision following a previous conviction, recall to prison or YOI. On licence means that a prisoner is subject to recall to prison if they breach the terms of their release.

b. Issue an Order for Lifelong Restriction (OLR). The OLR provides for the lifelong supervision of high-risk violent and sexual offenders and allows for a greater degree of intensive supervision than is the current norm. The OLR is designed to ensure that offenders, after having served an adequate period in prison to meet the requirements of punishment, do not present an unacceptable risk to public safety once they are released into the community. The period spent in the community will be an integral part of the sentence, which lasts for the remaining period of the offender's life.

c. Impose an Extended Sentence. These sentences give additional post-release supervision on licence where it is considered that any existing supervision after the offender's release from custody would be a risk to the public. Extended sentences are imposed on sex offenders or on violent offenders who receive a custodial sentence of four years or more.

d. Impose a Supervised Release Order. These can be used for people sentenced to less than 4 years in custody for offences other than sexual crimes. They mean that the person is compulsorily supervised for up to one year following release. These orders should only be imposed where the Court believes it would help prevent serious harm. The offender must comply with the reasonable instructions of the supervising officer.

e. Sentence a person under the age of 18 convicted of murder to be detained without limit of time in such place, and under such conditions, as Scottish Ministers may direct (the effect of this is normally detention in a young offenders institution or secure unit). Where the person is aged 18 but under 21 he or she should be detained initially in a young offenders institution.

f. Where a child (as defined in section 199 of the Children's Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011) is convicted on indictment and the court is of the view that no other method of dealing with the child is appropriate, the court may sentence the child to be detained for a period specified in the sentence and shall during that period be liable to be detained in such place, and on such conditions, as Scottish Ministers may direct.

Community sentences

D.4 Community sentence is a collective term for the ways that courts can punish someone convicted of committing an offence other than by serving a custodial sentence. The following list includes the commmunity sentence options to:

g. Impose a community payback order (CPO). These were introduced by the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 and can only be imposed in respect of offence(s) committed on or after 1 February 2011. The CPO replaces provisions for community service orders, probation orders and supervised attendance orders, and the former community reparation order.

A CPO can consist of one of more of nine requirements including offender supervision, compensation, unpaid work or other activity, mental health treatment, drug treatment and alcohol treatment. Every order must contain either an unpaid work or other activity requirement or an offender supervision requirement (or both). If an offender fails to comply with a requirement in the order, the court can impose a number of sanctions, including a restricted movement requirement.

h. Impose a restriction of liberty order: a community sentence introduced by section 5 of the Crime and Punishment (Scotland) Act 1997 and available to courts nationally from 1 May 2002. This requires a person to remain within a location, usually their home, at times specified by the court. A person's compliance with the order is monitored electronically.

i. Impose a drug treatment and testing order (DTTO): a measure introduced by the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and rolled out in phases from 1999 onwards. These are designed to reduce or stop offending by addressing problem drug use through the provision or access to a closely monitored treatment programme.

j. Impose a probation order, of which some had conditions such as unpaid work or alcohol treatment attached (for offences committed prior to 1 February 2011).

k. Impose a community service order requiring the offender to undertake unpaid work (for offences committed prior to 1 February 2011).

l. Impose a supervised attendance order which the court can impose as an alternative to custody for people who have defaulted on fines imposed for minor criminal offences (for offences committed prior to 1 February 2011).

Financial penalties

D.5 The list below includes the financial penalty sentence options that allow the courts to :

m. Fine the offender.

n. Impose a compensation order requiring the offender to compensate the victim for any resulting injury, loss, damage, alarm or distress.

Other sentences

D.6 The list below includes the "other" sentence options that allow the courts to :

o. Admonish the offender or make an order to find caution (the overwhelming majority of these are admonishments).

p. Order an absolute discharge (with no conviction recorded in summary procedure) or, following a deferral of sentence, make no order.

q. Remit the disposal of a child offender to a children's hearing (if the accused is a child, under 16 years of age or aged 16 or 17 and subject to a supervision requirement).

r. Make a guardianship order if the accused is suffering from a mental disorder (with no conviction recorded in summary procedure).

s. Make a compulsion order if the accused is suffering from a mental disorder (with a conviction recorded), for a period of six months with regular reviews.

D.7 The range of options available to the police for minor offences includes:

a. Anti-social behaviour fixed penalty notices (ASBFPNs) of £40, can be issued for eleven crime/offence types, including drunken-related behaviours and playing loud music, to people aged 16 or over. Payment of the penalty involves no admission of guilt.

b. Formal adult warnings (FAWs) are issued for minor offences, commonly including street drinking, drunk and incapable, urinating, minor theft by shoplifting, assault, breach of the peace and vandalism.

c. Police recorded warnings were introduced on 11th January 2016 to deal with low level offences and replace Formal Adult Warnings. Police recorded warnings can be issued to any person over the age of 16. It is not a finding of guilt but is an alternative to prosecution and can be taken into account within a period of two years should the offender come to the further notice of the police.

d. Disposals for young people who offend such as Early and Effective Interventions (EEI) and Restorative Justice Warnings.

D.8 When a report is submitted by the police to the procurator fiscal, prosecution in court is only one of a range of possible options for dealing with people who have been charged. These cover:

a. Fiscal fines of up to £300 for summary offences. Available to fiscals before Summary Justice Reform, but cannot be separately identified in CHS until after SJR;

b. Fiscal fixed penalties are generally issued for motor vehicle offences. Available to fiscals before SJR, but cannot be separately identified in CHS until after SJR;

c. Fiscal compensation orders of up to £5,000 payable to the victim. Only available after SJR, for personal injury, loss, damage, alarm or distress;

d. Combined fiscal fine and fiscal compensation order; and

e. Fiscal Work Orders (FWOs) were introduced across Scotland in April 2015 and provide COPFS with the option of offering an alleged offender a period of unpaid work of between 10 and 50 hours, as an alternative to prosecution. Successful completion of the order discharges the right to prosecute. We have been unable to derive statistics for this year's Criminal Proceedings bulletin due to uncertainty around what stage information relating to the FWO is captured on the Criminal History System. We will investigate the process of recording these disposals in the coming year with the hope of publishing FWO statistics in the 2016-17 report.

Classification of crimes and offences

D.9 Violations of criminal law are divided, for statistical purposes only, into crimes and offences. There are around 6,000 charge codes, which are the operational codes used within the Criminal Justice System to identify crimes and offences. These charge codes are mapped to around 400 crime codes, which in turn are grouped into 35 broader categories, and further into 7 crime and offence groups. This classification enables consistent and comparable reporting between criminal justice organisations and is presented in the table below.


Group 1: Non-sexual crimes of violence (Also referred to as Crimes of violence)

Homicide etc.


  • Murder
  • Culpable homicide
    - Culpable homicide (common law)
    - Causing death by dangerous driving
    - Causing death by careless driving while under the influence of drink or drugs
    - Causing death by careless driving
    - Illegal driver involved in fatal accident
    - Corporate homicide

Attempted murder and serious assault


  • Attempted murder
  • Serious assault

An assault is classified as serious if the victim sustained an injury resulting in detention in hospital as an in-patient or any of the following injuries whether or not he/she was detained in hospital: fractures, internal injuries, severe concussion, lacerations requiring sutures which may lead to impairment or disfigurement or any other injury which may lead to impairment or disfigurement.



  • Robbery and assault with intent to rob



  • Threats and extortion
  • Cruel and unnatural treatment of children
  • Abortion
  • Concealment of pregnancy
  • Possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life, commit crime etc.
  • Abduction
  • Ill treatment of mental patients
  • Drugging

Group 2: Sexual crimes

Rape and attempted rape


  • Rape
  • Attempted rape

Sexual assault


  • Contact sexual assault (13-15 year old or adult 16+)
  • Sexually coercive conduct (13-15 year old or adult 16+)
  • Sexual crimes against children under 13 years
  • Lewd and libidinous practices

Crimes associated with prostitution


  • Crimes relating to prostitution
  • Soliciting services of person engaged in prostitution
  • Brothel keeping
  • Immoral traffic
  • Procuration



  • Other sexually coercive conduct
  • Other sexual crimes involving 13-15 year old children
  • Indecent image offences i.e. "Taking, distribution, possession etc. of indecent photos of children"
  • Incest
  • Unnatural crimes
  • Public indecency
  • Sexual exposure
  • Other sexual crimes

Group 3: Crimes of dishonesty (Also referred to as Dishonesty)



  • Theft by housebreaking domestic property (dwelling and non-dwelling)
  • Theft by housebreaking other property
  • Housebreaking with intent to steal domestic property (dwelling and non-dwelling)
  • Housebreaking with intent to steal other property
  • Attempted housebreaking with intent to enter and steal domestic property (dwelling and non-dwelling)
  • Attempted housebreaking with intent to enter and steal other property

Theft by opening a lockfast place (OLP)


  • Theft by opening lockfast places (OLP) (excluding motor vehicle)
  • OLP (excluding motor vehicle) with intent to steal
  • Attempted OLP excluding motor vehicle with intent to steal

Theft from a motor vehicle by OLP

Includes :

  • Theft by OLP from a motor vehicle
  • OLP with intent to steal from a motor vehicle
  • Attempted OLP with intent to steal from a motor vehicle

Theft of motor vehicle

Includes :

  • Theft of a motor vehicle and contents
  • Attempted theft of a motor vehicle


Includes :

  • Shoplifting

Other theft

Includes :

  • Theft of pedal cycles
  • Theft from a motor vehicle not elsewhere classified



  • Common law fraud
  • Statutory fraud
  • Forgery and uttering (excluding currency crimes)

Other crimes of dishonesty


  • Forgery (other)
  • Reset
  • Embezzlement
  • Corruption

Group 4: Fire-raising, vandalism etc.



  • Fire-raising
  • Muirburn

Vandalism, etc.


  • Malicious mischief
  • Vandalism
  • Culpable and reckless conduct (not with firearms)
  • Reckless conduct with firearms

Group 5: Other crimes

Crimes against public justice


  • Perjury
  • Resisting arrest
  • Bail offences (other than absconding or re-offending)
  • Wasting police time

Handling offensive weapons


  • Possession of an offensive weapon
  • Restriction of offensive weapons
  • Having in a public place an article with a blade or point
  • Having in prison an article with a blade or point
  • Possession of an offensive weapon (not blade or point) in a prison



  • Importation of drugs
  • Production, manufacture or cultivation of drugs
  • Possession and supply of controlled drugs
  • Related money laundering offences
  • Bringing drugs into prison



  • Treason
  • Conspiracy
  • Explosives offences
  • Wrecking, piracy and hijacking
  • Crimes against public order


Group 6: Miscellaneous offences

Common assault


  • Common assault
  • Common assault on an emergency worker

Breach of the peace etc.


  • Breach of the peace
  • Threatening or abusive behaviour
  • Offence of stalking
  • Offensive behaviour at football
  • Threatening communications (Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act 2012)

Drunkenness and other disorderly conduct


  • Drunk and disorderly
  • Drunk and incapable
  • Drunk in charge of a child
  • Drunk and attempting to enter licensed premises
  • Drunk or drinking in unlicensed premises
  • Disorderly on licensed premises
  • Drunk and attempting to enter a sports ground
  • Refusing to quit licensed premises
  • Consumption of alcohol in designated places, byelaws prohibited

Urinating etc.


  • Urinating /defecating



  • Racially aggravated harassment
  • Racially aggravated conduct
  • False/Hoax calls
  • Offences involving children
  • Offences involving animals/plants
  • Offences against local legislation
  • Offences against liquor licensing laws
  • Labour laws
  • Naval military and air force laws
  • Offences against environmental legislation
  • Consumer protection acts

Group 7: Motor vehicle offences

Dangerous and careless driving


  • Dangerous driving offences
  • Driving carelessly

Driving under the influence


  • Driving or in charge of motor vehicle while unfit through drink or drugs
  • Blood alcohol content above limit
  • Failing to provide breath, blood or urine specimens



  • Speeding in restricted areas
  • Other speeding offences


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