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.

3. Acquittals by crime type

(Table 2)

When an accused person is found not guilty of a charge, or the charge is not proven, this is called an ‘acquittal’. In 2020-21, 3% of people were acquitted on a ‘not guilty’ verdict, and 1% were acquitted on a ‘not proven’ verdict. A further 5% either had a plea of ‘not guilty’ accepted or their case was deserted by the prosecution or the Court. These proportions are broadly unchanged over the last five years.

Chart 4 shows the crime types with the highest acquittal rates in comparison with the overall rate of 4% in 2020-21:

  • as in previous years, the highest rate was seen for rape and attempted rape, where 48% or 73 people of the 152 proceeded against were acquitted,
  • there were also high acquittal rates for sexual assault (29% had their case acquitted), and
  • The highest rate of acquittals for non-sexual crimes was for 13% of cases of homicide etc.
Chart 4. Crime types with the highest acquittal rates (not guilty and not proven)
A bar chart highlighting crime types with the highest acquittal rates such as Rape and attempted rape (48%) and sexual assault (29%).



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