Criminal proceedings in Scotland 2016-17: statistics

Statistics on criminal proceedings concluded in Scottish courts and alternatives to prosecution, issued by the police and by the Crown Office.

This document is part of a collection

7. People convicted by offence group

( Tables 4a and 4b)

All "offence" convictions totalled 59,794 in 2016-17. As a proportion of all offences, common assault and breach of the peace made up 44%, while speeding and unlawful use of a vehicle accounted for 30%. These proportions have remained at broadly similar levels since 2007-08.

Motor vehicle offences

Motor vehicle offence convictions declined by 16% from 32,565 convictions in 2015-16 to 30,596 in 2016-17. This drop continues a downward trend following the marked rise of 14% in motor vehicle offences in 2013-14 attributed, in part, to Police Scotland's road safety priority. There have since been changes in guidelines issued to officers around these types of offences and since 2014-15 declines were observed for each of the motor vehicle offence groups except dangerous and careless driving (up five per cent in 2016-17 to 3,763). Unlawful use of motor vehicle fell in 2015-16, but reversed the decline in 2016-17, increasing by 13% to 7,167 convictions.

The crime groups within motor vehicle offence convictions which decreased the most between 2015-16 and 2016-17 were for:

  • Mobile phone offences down 35% from 2,281 convictions to 1,478; and
  • Seat belt offences down 28% from 481 to 313.

Convictions for driving under the influence increased by three per cent from 3,537 in 2015-16 to 3,646 in 2016-17, the first increase in a decade. It is not clear whether this is related to the change in the legal alcohol limit for drivers from 80 mg to 50 mg per 100 ml blood which applied from the 5th December 2014.

Miscellaneous Offences

The vast majority of "miscellaneous offences" are breach of the peace and common assault offences. Both groups showed decreases for convictions between 2015-16 and 2016-17:

  • Breach of the peace category, down six per cent from 16,298 to 15,302 convictions. This has been driven by a fall in the number of " threatening or abusive behaviour" offences, an offence classified within the breach of the peace total; and
  • Common assault, down seven per cent from 12,080 to 11,243 convictions.

Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012

The Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 criminalises offensive or threatening behaviour likely to incite public disorder in relation to regulated football matches. The Act also criminalises making communications which contain threats of serious violence, or which contain threats intended to incite religious hatred. Crimes under the Act are categorised within the breach of the peace crime type. Depending on the circumstances, some offences of disorderly and offensive behaviour at football matches could also be charged under other breach of the peace charges such as threatening and abusive behaviour under section 38 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010.

Table A shows that there were 158 people convicted for offences under the Act in 2016-17. When compared with the number of people proceeded against, this represents a conviction rate of 69%. The total number of people proceeded against increased by a third between 2015-16 and 2016-17 (up from 172 to 229 proceedings), however it is important to bear in mind that the overall number is still relatively low and subject to annual fluctuations.

Table A: People proceeded against under the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 1

  2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17
Section 1: Offensive Behaviour at Football
Convictions 2 67 86 76 130 157
Proceedings 2 91 154 90 172 229
Section 6: Threatening Communications
Convictions - 2 3 2 1 1
Proceedings - 2 4 4 2 1
Section 1 and 6
Total convictions 2 69 89 78 132 158
Total proceedings 2 93 158 94 175 230
Conviction rate 100% 74% 56% 83% 75% 69%

1. Where main charge

Please note that these statistics are not directly comparable with the COPFS report Hate Crime in Scotland or the Scottish Government publication Charges reported under the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act 2016-2017. Both of those outputs use COPFS figures which measure individual charges at the case marking stage while statistics in this report are representative of closed cases that have reached a final verdict in court. Whilst the other reports include information on the disposal in court they are only counted if the charges were proceeded against and closed by the time the information was compiled. Some charges marked by the COPFS for court action will not have received a final verdict and will still be on-going at the time the reports were published. Information on convictions from the COPFS data source is thus provisional at the time of publication and subject to change. Please see Annex C for more detail on COPFS data sources.


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