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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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 2021-22, 4% of people were acquitted on a ‘not guilty’ verdict, and 1% were acquitted on a ‘not proven’ verdict. A further 7% 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 3 shows the crime types with the highest acquittal rates in comparison with the overall rate of 6% in 2021-22:

  • as in previous years, the highest rate was seen for Rape and attempted rape, where 52% or 174 of the 336 people proceeded against were acquitted,
  • there were also high acquittal rates for Sexual assault (37% had their case acquitted), and
  • The highest acquittal rate within Non-sexual crimes of violence was the 25% seen for Causing death by dangerous driving.
Chart 3. Rape & attempted rape and Sexual assault have the highest acquittal rates. Crime types with the highest acquittal rates (not guilty and not proven) in Scottish courts in 2021-22.
crime types with the highest acquittal rates, the two largest being Rape and attempted rape (52%) and sexual assault (37%). For context, the acquittal rate for All crimes and offences was 6%.



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