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

13. Aggravators

( Table 12 and 13)

Aggravator codes can be recorded on the Criminal History System ( CHS) to provide additional information relating to the nature of a charge. For example, someone who commits an assault which is motivated by malice towards the victim as a result of their religion might have their offence recorded under "common assault" with an aggravator code of "religious" hatred.

This publication includes statistics on a subset of the full set of aggravator codes on the CHS. The set of aggravators published covers disability, racial, religious, sexual orientation and transgender. These are 'statutory aggravators' as they are covered by legislation, as outlined in Annex C. In addition, information is published on domestic abuse cases, which are recorded on the CHS using the " domestic" aggravator code to highlight particular cases to the police, COPFS or SCTS.

The Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act 2016 creates a statutory aggravation of domestic abuse. This part of the legislation came into force on 24 April 2017. Such aggravations will therefore appear for the first time in the 2017-18 statistics.

Please note that statistics on bail aggravators, which identify offences that were committed while the offender was on bail, are not included in this publication but are available for download from the " Additional data" page.

Changes to aggravator statistics

In 2015-16, the number of aggravator types included was reduced due to concerns around data quality. The information dropped included aggravation by breaching an order (such as harassment orders or an antisocial behaviour orders) and other aggravator codes such as " sexual" or " offence against a child". These have again been excluded in 2016-17, and further investigation is required to establish whether the recording of these codes on the CHS is of a high enough standard to warrant publication for 2017-18.

Statistics on aggravators

Please be aware that a single proceeding can have more than one aggravator recorded against it e.g. "domestic" and "disability". In this case the same proceeding would be counted twice in the aggravator tables but once in the main court tables.

Domestic abuse

The most common aggravator type in 2016-17 was for " domestic" abuse with 10,830 convictions, a 12% decrease from 2015-16 (12,376 convictions). This represents the first large fall in the recording of this aggravator in recent years. Levels are still 26% higher than in 2010-11 (8,566 convictions). The longer term increase had been driven by an increase in breach of the peace convictions, particularly offences of "threatening or abusive behaviour" or stalking.

In 2016-17 the vast majority of people convicted of an offence with a domestic abuse aggravator recorded were male (9,501 convictions or 88%). This proportion has declined by five percentage points since 2007-08 when the proportion of males convicted with a domestic abuse aggravator recorded stood at 93%.

In 2016-17 the most common crime types with a domestic abuse aggravator recorded against a conviction were for:

  • Breach of the peace, which made up 46% of domestic abuse convictions (4,945 convictions). The vast majority of these breach of the peace convictions (88% or 4,329 convictions) were for offences of "threatening or abusive behaviour" or stalking.
  • Common assault (29% or 3,113 convictions); and
  • Crimes against public justice (16% or 1,750 convictions).

Other aggravators

After the domestic abuse aggravator, the next most common types of aggravators recorded in 2016-17 were:

  • Racial (721 convictions);
  • Sexual orientation (356 convictions); and
  • Religious (277 convictions).

Convictions with racial and sexual orientation aggravators have fallen for the first time in 2016-17 since their introduction through the Offences (Aggravation by Prejudice) (Scotland) Act 2009 (by five and four per cent respectively), but religious aggravators have bucked the trend and risen strongly, by 12% from 247 convictions.

Convictions with the transgender aggravator have doubled in 2016-17, although use overall remains very low at 14 convictions.


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