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.

5. People convicted by crime or offence

(Tables 4a and 4b)

This publication divides breaches of criminal law into (a) crimes and (b) offences. This distinction is made only for statistical reporting purposes. Although the breaches allocated under “crimes” can generally be considered to be more serious, there are some “offences” that have more severe punishments associated with them than “crimes”. The Scottish Government has recently consulted about changing the classification of some of these in response to the needs of users, and future publications may reflect the change. The full paper provides users with more information on background to the consultation and the new grouping structure for the presentation of crime statistics section provides a full breakdown of the new classification structure.

In 2020-21 “crimes” made up 18,747 of the total number of convictions (44%) while “offences” stood at 23,785 (56%). The decrease from 2019-20 to 2020-21 was higher for offences (down 50%) than for crimes (down 34%). Falls in convictions for crimes have been driven by reductions in the number of crimes of dishonesty (down 44% or 4,054 convictions). The largest contributors to this decrease were convictions for shoplifting.

Most of the decrease in convictions for offences is due to falls in the number of convictions for speeding (down 6,978), Breach of the peace etc. (down 4,388), and common assault (down 3,512).



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