Criminal proceedings in Scotland: 2020-2021

Statistics on criminal proceedings concluded in Scottish courts and alternative measures to prosecution issued by the police and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service are presented for the ten years from 2011-12 to 2020-21. The latest year’s data is impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Criminal proceedings in Scotland, 2020-21

This bulletin forms part of the Scottish Government series of statistical bulletins on the criminal justice system. 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. Detailed figures for 2020-21 are presented, along with selected trends for the last ten years.

These figures cover the first full year of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of this across the justice system. Whilst it is not yet possible to isolate the impact of the pandemic on the data, it is reasonable to conclude that the latest data is predominantly a reflection of the impact of the pandemic across the justice system, and should not be interpreted as indicative of longer-term trends.

Whilst this publication focuses predominantly on court and out-of-court measures for dealing with offending, the pandemic affected all parts of the justice system. These figures reflect, to varying degrees, the impact of the pandemic across all parts of the system. These include but are not limited to; changes in offending behaviour and the types of crime reported to and recorded by the police; case processing and prioritisation by COPFS and SCTS; and reductions in court capacity and the types of court available for cases to be heard. Whilst all court types experienced some reduction in capacity over the course of the pandemic, not all court types were affected equally. This is likely to have had a significant impact on the mix of cases concluded in court and associated sentencing outcomes, presented in the figures here.

Further information on how the COVID-19 pandemic affected the Justice System in Scotland, including information from Police Scotland, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, courts and prisons is provided in the Justice Analytical Services monthly data report. Please note that offences introduced by Coronavirus legislation are included in this bulletin for the first time and more information can be found in Annex E1.



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