Publication - Statistics

Criminal Proceedings in Scotland, 2019-20

Published: 18 May 2021

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,


1 In a sheriff solemn court, the jury determines whether an accused is guilty or not and the sheriff determines sentence. In a sheriff summary court, the sheriff determines both whether an accused is guilty or not and, if guilty, the sentence.

2 The court can sentence up to an additional six months where there is a bail aggravation on the charge, and Sheriff Court fines can be higher than £10,000 where there is legislative provision for this in relation to a specific offence.

3 Includes "taking, distribution, possession etc of indecent photos of children", public indecency, sexual exposure, communicating indecently and intercourse with older child. See annex D for more detail.

4 Murder carries a mandatory life sentence upon conviction. Although an Order for Lifelong Restriction is a sentence that lasts for the rest of a person's life, it is not treated as a life sentence for the purpose of these statistics.

5 The median value is the midpoint of a ranked series of data. It is used so that very high or very low values do not impact excessively on the calculated average.

6 Year-on-year comparisons for fines and compensation orders are in cash terms, and have therefore not been adjusted for inflation.