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.

1. Trends in people proceeded against and convicted

(Tables 1 and 2a and 2b, 4a and 4b)

Unless otherwise stated, references in this bulletin to the crime or offence group for which a person is proceeded against or convicted relate to the main charge involved. If there are multiple charges libelled on a Complaint or Indictment, and thereafter proven against an accused in a single proceeding, the main charge is the crime or offence receiving the most severe penalty (as defined in Annex C). The final column of Table 4b provides counts of individual crimes or offences with a charge proven regardless of whether or not it was the main crime or offence involved. Please note that where an accused is subject to multiple separate proceedings, that accused is counted multiple times in the figures presented in this bulletin.

A total of 46,497 people were proceeded against in Court in 2020-21, a fall of 46% on 2019-20 (86,143 proceedings). The number of convictions fell at a similar rate, down 44% to 42,532 from 2019-20 (75,670). This is a very steep drop after a steady downward trend over the last ten years, with the impact of reduced court activity in the year 2020-21 due to COVID-19 lockdowns clearly illustrated (Chart 3).

Chart 3. Number of people proceeded against and those convicted
A line chart showing the long term decline in the number of individuals proceeded against and convicted since 2011-12.

The fall in the number of convictions in the last year has been led by afall in absolute numbers of convictions for: Breach of the peace etc. down 38% to 7,107 convictions in 2020-21; crimes against public justice down 12% to 6,767; and common assault down 42% to 4,876. Together these three crimes and offence types represented a large number of convictions, making up 36% of convictions in 2019-20 and 44% in 2020-21. The conviction rates for these crime groups have all increased over the past year.



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