Criminal proceedings in Scotland: 2018-2019

Statistics are presented on criminal proceedings concluded in Scottish courts and on a range of measures available as alternatives to prosecution, which are issued by the police and by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

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Key points

Criminal Proceedings in Scotland 2018-2019

(Tables 1,2,3 and 4a-c)

  • A total of 89,733 people were proceeded against in court in 2018-19, a fall of 6% on 2017-18 (95,557 proceedings). The number of convictions fell at the same rate, down 6% to 78,503 from 2017-18 (83,179). In the same period, there was a 4% fall in the number of criminal reports received by COPFS.
  • The overall conviction rate has remained relatively stable over the last ten years, down slightly by two percentage points from 89% in 2009-10 to 87% in 2018-19. The rate remains unchanged compared to 2017-18.
  • The number of convictions for rape and attempted rape increased by 43% in 2018-19 to 152, compared to 106 in 2017-18, and 57 in 2009-10. This increase is greater than the change in the number of proceedings for these crimes, which is up by 32% from 246 in 2017-18 to 324 proceedings in 2018-19.
  • There has been an increase of 9% in the number of convictions for sexual crimes, from 1,112 in 2017-18 to 1,215 in 2018-19. This is driven by the increases in rape and attempted rape, and other crimes, which include "taking, distribution, possession etc of indecent photos of children", and "communicating indecently".
  • Convictions for non-sexual crimes of violence decreased by 3% in 2018-19 to 1,781, compared to 1,829 in 2017-18. The number of convictions for homicide decreased by 9% to 81 convictions. The number of attempted murder and serious assault convictions was almost unchanged at 1,172, and convictions for robbery fell by 12% to 361, the lowest number this decade.
  • Convictions for crimes of dishonesty fell by 1% in 2018-19, down to 9,771 convictions from 9,862 in 2017-18. This continues the decline of the last ten years with convictions now 39% lower than in 2009-10 (15,951).

Court sentences

(Tables 7 to 10)

  • The total number of convictions fell by 6%, however, those resulting in a custodial sentence increased by 2% (from 11,980 in 2017-18 to 12,220 in 2018-19). Custodial sentences represented 16% of all convictions in 2018-19, up from 13% in 2009-10.
  • The average length of custodial sentence for all crimes, excluding life sentences, in 2018-19 was almost eleven months (326 days), which is 9 days (3%) longer than in 2017-18 (317 days). This continues the long-term upward trend in sentence length, with the average sentence length now 16% longer than in 2009-10 (281 days).
  • The crime type with the longest average sentences (excluding life sentences) in 2018-19 was rape and attempted rape, which increased by 2% to 2,626 from 2,578 days in 2017-18.
  • Sentences of 3 to 6 months have been the most common sentence length since 2011-12, accounting for 35% of all custodial sentences in 2018-19. Prior to 2011-12 sentences of up to three months were the most common custodial sentence, dropping from 38% in 2009-10 to 26% in 2018-19.
  • In 2018-19, 19% (15,206) of all convictions resulted in a main penalty of a community sentence. This is up five percentage points from 14% in 2009-10, but down by two percentage points from 21% in 2017-18.
  • The overall 12% reduction in community sentences is driven by a 16% reduction in the number of Community Payback Orders, from 14,074 in 2017-18 to 11,803 in 2018-19. This contrasts with an increase in the use of other types of community sentences. There has been a 5% increase in the use of Restriction of Liberty Orders, from 2,712 to 2,840; and the number of Drug Treatment and Testing Orders (DTTOs) increased from 497 in 2017-18 to 541 in 2018-19 (a rise of 9%).

Characteristics of offenders

(Tables 5, 6, 8c, 10b, and 11)

  • The number of convictions per 1,000 population has declined over the last ten years from 25 in 2009-10 to 16 in 2018-19. This fall is driven by a decline for males, down to 27 convictions per 1,000 population in 2018-19 from 44 in 2009-10. The rate for females has also declined over the ten year period although more gradually, from eight convictions per 1,000 population in 2009-10 to five in 2018-19.
  • During the past 10 years, the number of convictions per 1,000 population for younger people (under-21s and 21-30s) has fallen much more quickly than the numbers for older people (those aged 31 and over). Nonetheless, in all but the oldest age-gender groups there has been a fall in the number of convictions per 1,000 people.
  • Whilst the number of convictions has fallen in all age and gender groupings apart from over-60s, the number receiving custodial sentences has increased for all age groups for males, and for females aged 31-40.


(Tables 12 and 13)

  • There were 9,210 convictions with a domestic abuse identifier recorded, a 7% decrease from 2017-18 (9,884 convictions). This is the fourth consecutive annual fall and, following the peak in 2014-15, numbers are now close to the level seen in 2009-10 (8,844 convictions).
  • The statutory domestic abuse aggravator was introduced in 2017-18, and was proven in 7,752 convictions in 2018-19 (84% of all cases with a domestic abuse identifier).


(Tables 14, 15 and 16)

  • The number of bail orders issued decreased by 6% from 36,853 in 2017-18 to 34,735 in 2018-19. Over the last decade, numbers have fallen by 28%, down from 47,922 bail orders in 2009-10. This is consistent with the longer term trends in volumes of cases coming to court.
  • There were 6,501 bail-related offences in 2018-19 (e.g. breach of bail conditions, such as failure to appear in court after being granted bail), a 7% fall compared to 2017-18 (7,000 bail related offences). Around one of every five bail orders (19%) result in a bail-related offence. This is unchanged compared to 2017-18.
  • In 2018-19 there were 15,646 undertakings to appear in Court, a decrease of 11% from 2017-18 (17,644 undertakings). After a relatively large increase last year, this is a return to the level seen in 2015-16. Numbers are now 40% below where they were in 2009-10, continuing the longer term downward trend.

Police disposals

(Tables 17 to 18)

  • The total number of police disposals increased for the first time in a decade in 2018-19 (up 4% on 2017-18 levels), driven by an increase in Recorded Police Warnings.
  • There were 22,070 Recorded Police Warnings issued during 2018-19, an increase of 27% from 17,332 in 2017-18.
  • In 2018-19, 8,890 people received an Anti-Social Behaviour Fixed Penalty Notice (ASBFPN) as a main penalty, a fall of 19% from 11,018 in 2017-18.

Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service

(Tables 19 to 22)

  • In 2018-19 18,443 people were issued a fiscal fine as a main penalty, a decrease of 19% from 22,693 in 2017-18. This resumes the general downward trend, which has been ongoing since 2012-13.
  • In 2018-19, 6,977 Crown Office Fixed Penalty Notices (COFP) were issued to people as a main penalty, an increase of 7% from 6,546 in 2017-18. This is the first annual rise in six years.



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