Criminal Proceedings in Scotland, 2021-22

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 10 years from 2012-13 to 2021-22. The latest two years of data were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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2. Trends in conviction rates

(Tables 3a-c)

Conviction rates are calculated by dividing the number of people convicted by the number of people proceeded against. Care should be taken when interpreting data on conviction rates. Conviction rates are dependent on a number of factors, including the strength of evidence available; and the complexity of the case. However, all convictions are wholly dependent upon the decision of the court. A high conviction rate could indicate that cases brought to court are evidentially strong or straightforward (for example road traffic offences), but it could also indicate that cases which are evidentially weak, for instance, lacking sufficient admissible evidence are not reaching court. Conversely, a low conviction rate could indicate that the highly complex or evidentially difficult cases are brought to Court, but, the judge or jury is unwilling to accept the evidence provided by the prosecutor and thereafter unable to convict the accused.

Eighty-eight per cent of people proceeded against in court in 2021-22 were convicted after being found guilty of at least one charge (59,295 people). This is three percentage points lower than 2020-21. The conviction rate for all crimes and offences has remained relatively stable over the last decade, fluctuating between 86% and 88% in each year when 2020-21 is excluded.

Conviction rates are highest for Road traffic offences, with 94% of people proceeded against being convicted in 2021-22. In particular, Speeding offences had a conviction rate of 98%. Apart from Road traffic offences, the highest conviction rates for crimes was 92%, for both Indecent photos of children and Shoplifting. The lowest rate was for Rape and attempted rape (48%). The conviction rate for Rape and attempted rape has been the lowest of all crime and offences in each of the most recent 10 years. Further detail of acquittals with respect to rape and attempted rape can be seen in Section 3.

Over the previous 10 years, the most notable trends in conviction rates have been for:

  • Other non-sexual violence, up from 71% in 2012-13 to 82% in 2021-22
  • Licensing offences, up from 83% in 2012-13 to 89% in 2021-22
  • Housebreaking, up from 80% in 2012-13 to 86% in 2021-22



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