Criminal Proceedings in Scotland, 2019-20
A total of 85,726 people were proceeded against in Scottish criminal courts in 2019-20, a fall of 4% from 89,725 proceedings in 2018-19 The number of convictions was 75,251 in 2019-20, which is also a fall of 4% from 78,488 in 2018-19. This continues the general downward trend of the last ten years,
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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.
D.3 'Sex' can be considered to refer to whether someone is male or female based on their physiology, with 'gender' representing a social construct or sense of self that takes a wider range of forms. Throughout this report we refer to 'sex' rather than 'gender' because this better reflects recording practices in relation to this information. In reality it is likely that recording includes a mixture of physiological and personal identity.
D.4 Sex in this bulletin is generally identified by a police officer based on how a person presents and recorded when a person's details are entered into the CHS. In most cases this is based on the physiology of a person rather than self-identified gender. It is recorded for operational purposes, such as requirements for searching. A person's sex may only be changed on the CHS if person has produced a Gender Recognition Certificate, or there has been a data entry error. A small number of records are recorded as 'unknown' where for some reason a clear understanding of the sex of the individual is not known.
D.5 During production of this bulletin we query any unusual sex values with Police Scotland, SCTS, and COPFS. Unusual values may be where sex for the same person has been recorded differently against two different proceedings, or where a female has been proceeded against for rape and attempted rape. We fix any values that were erroneous with the correct values.
D.6 The Scottish Government has created a working group on the recording of sex and gender in data to give guidance to public bodies on the collection, disaggregation, and use of data on sex and gender. Draft guidance has been published to collect feedback from users.
D.7 In 2019-20 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).
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 by a criminal justice social worker 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 or over 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.
D.8 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 which can be imposed.
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 replaced provisions for community service orders, probation orders, supervised attendance orders, and the community reparation order.
A CPO can consist of one or 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.
b. 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.
c. 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.
And, for offences committed prior to 1 February 2011:
d. Probation order, of which some had conditions such as unpaid work or alcohol treatment attached.
e. Community service order requiring the offender to undertake unpaid work.
f. 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.
D.9 The list below includes the financial penalty sentence options that allow the courts to:
a. fine the offender
b. impose a compensation order requiring the offender to compensate the victim for any resulting injury, loss, damage, alarm or distress.
D.10 The list below includes the "other" sentence options that allow the courts to:
a. admonish the offender or make an order to find caution (the overwhelming majority of these are admonishments).
b. order an absolute discharge (with no conviction recorded in summary procedure) or, following a deferral of sentence, make no order.
c. remit 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).
d. make a guardianship order if the accused is suffering from a mental disorder (with no conviction recorded in summary procedure).
e. 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.11 The range of options available to the police for minor offences (Police non- court disposals) includes:
a. Recorded Police Warnings, which were introduced on 11 January 2016 to deal with low-level offences and replaced Formal Adult Warnings. They 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.
b. Anti-social behaviour fixed penalty notices (ASBFPNs) of £50, which 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.
c. Disposals for young people who offend such as Early and Effective Interventions (EEI) and Restorative Justice Warnings.
D.12 When a report is submitted by the police to COPFS, prosecution in court is only one of a range of possible options for dealing with people who have been charged. COPFS can decide to use one of these non-court direct measures (COPFS non-court disposal):
a. Fiscal fines of between £50 to £300 for summary offences during the period covered by this bulletin.
b. Fiscal fixed penalties, generally issued for motor vehicle offences.
c. Fiscal warnings provide a method of dealing with a case without recourse to prosecution – they mean that the person receiving that warning cannot be prosecuted for that offence.
d. Fiscal compensation orders of up to £5,000 payable to the victim for personal injury, loss, damage, alarm or distress.
e. Combined fiscal fine and fiscal compensation order.
f. 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. Work is ongoing with COPFS and Police Scotland to ensure that these disposals are recorded correctly, and we intend to publish FWO statistics when we are satisfied that they are accurate.
Classification of crimes and offences
D.13 Violations of criminal law are divided, for statistical purposes only, into crimes and offences. There are around 5,300 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)
- 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
Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act
Crimes of domestic abuse under the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018, which covers a course of conduct.
- Threats and extortion
- Cruel and unnatural treatment of children or adults
- Concealment of pregnancy
- Possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life, commit crime etc.
- Ill-treatment and neglect of patients and vulnerable adults
Group 2: Sexual crimes
Rape and attempted rape
- Attempted rape
- 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
- 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"
- 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 vehcile with intent to steal
Theft from a motor vehicle by OLP
- 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
- Theft of a motor vehicle and contents
- Attempted theft of a motor vehicle
- 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)
Group 4: Fire-raising, vandalism etc.
- Malicious mischief
- Culpable and reckless conduct (not with firearms)
- Reckless conduct with firearms
Group 5: Other crimes
Crimes against public justice
- 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
- Explosives offences
- Wrecking, piracy and hijacking
- Crimes against public order
Group 6: Miscellaneous offences
- 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 /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
Unlawful use of motor vehicle
- Driving whilst disqualified
- Driving without a licence
- Offences relating to driving without insurance
- Vehicle excise license offences
Vehicle defect offences
- Offences relating to faulty lights on vehicles
- Other vehicle defects relating to tyres, brakes etc.
- Weight contraventions for goods vehicles
Seat belt offences
- Drivers and passengers failing to wear seatbelts
- Failure to restrain children in appropriate seatbelts
Mobile phone offences
- Driving whilst using a mobile phone
Other motor vehicle offences
- Accident offences including failing to stop/provide details
- Parking offences
- Motor Vehicle Records of Work (eg Tachograph) Offences
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