Domestic abuse: statistics recorded by the police in Scotland - 2021/22

Characteristics of victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse incidents recorded by the police in Scotland in 2021 to 2022.

This document is part of a collection

Annex 1: Terminology and context

5.1. Domestic abuse

A statistical collection on domestic abuse (previously referred to as domestic violence) was introduced in 1999. The definition of domestic abuse used by Police Scotland and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS)[13] is:

'Any form of physical, verbal, sexual, psychological or financial abuse which might amount to criminal conduct and which takes place within the context of a relationship. The relationship will be between partners (married, cohabiting, civil partnership or otherwise) or ex-partners. The abuse can be committed in the home or elsewhere including online'.

5.2. Suspected perpetrator

The term suspected perpetrator is used to encompass both a person suspected to have committed an offence where the police attend an incident and a person charged by the police with having committed a criminal offence.

5.3. Recording crimes and offences

Contraventions of Scottish criminal law are divided for statistical purposes only into crimes and offences. The term "crime" is generally used for the more serious criminal acts; the less serious are termed "offences". The distinction is made only for statistical reporting purposes and does not influence the way the police investigate reports of criminal activity. The seriousness of the offence is generally related to the maximum sentence that can be imposed, and does not relate to the impact on the individual experiencing the incident.

In one criminal incident, several crimes or offences may occur – e.g. a suspected perpetrator may assault their spouse and damage their car in the process. In this example, crimes of vandalism and assault would be recorded. Statistics in this bulletin either relate to the number of incidents recorded or the number of incidents with at least one crime or offence committed.

5.4. Crime groupings

As discussed in Section 1.3, changes were made to the crime grouping structure resulting in there now being eight groups as opposed to seven, and 50 categories instead of 35. The largest change is the transfer of Common assault and Stalking from the Miscellaneous offences group to the Non-sexual crimes of violence group.

The Scottish Government is responsible for mapping each charge code to a crime code, which forms the basis of the crime code classification. There are around 5,800 charge codes, which are the operational codes used within the criminal justice system to identify crimes and offences. These charge codes are mapped to around 500 crime or offence codes, which in turn are typically grouped into the now 50 broader categories, and further into the now eight crime and offence groups. This classification enables consistent and comparable reporting between criminal justice organisations.

Crimes and offences within this publication are presented using the eight main groupings and 50 categories, as shown in the table below.

Crimes (groups & sub-groups)

Group 1

Non-sexual crimes of violence

Murder and Culpable Homicide

Causing death by driving dangerously

Serious assault and attempted murder

Common assault


Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018

Other non-sexual crimes of violence

Group 2

Sexual crimes

Rape and attempted rape

Sexual assault

Causing to view sexual activity or images

Communicating indecently

Threatening to or disclosing intimate images

Indecent photos of children

Crimes associated with prostitution

Other sexual crimes

Group 3

Crimes of dishonesty


Theft by opening lockfast places

Theft from a motor vehicle

Theft of a motor vehicle


Other theft


Other dishonesty

Group 4

Damage and reckless behaviour



Reckless conduct

Group 5

Crimes against society

Crimes against public justice

Weapons possession (not used)

Weapons possession (used)

Drugs - Supply

Drugs - Possession

Other crimes against society

Offences (groups & sub-groups)

Group 6

Antisocial offences

Threatening and abusive behaviour

Racially aggravated conduct

Drunkenness and other disorderly conduct

Urinating etc.

Group 7

Miscellaneous offences

Community and public order offences

Environmental offences

Licensing offences

Wildlife offences

Other misc. offences

Group 8

Road traffic offences[14]

Dangerous and careless driving

Driving under the influence


Unlawful use of motor vehicle

Vehicle defect offences

Seat belt offences

Mobile phone offences

Other road traffic offences

More detailed information on the changes which have been made to the grouping structure are listed below.

Non-sexual crimes of violence

  • Split Homicide etc. into two categories: Murder and culpable homicide, and Death by dangerous driving
  • Reclassify Common assault as a crime, sitting as its own category within the Non-sexual crimes of violence group (in 2020-21 there were just over 52,000 common assaults)
  • Reclassify Stalking as a crime, sitting within the Other non-sexual violence category of the Non-sexual crimes of violence group (in 2020-21 there were around 900 offences of stalking)
  • Move Female genital mutilation from Non-sexual crimes of violence – Other non-sexual violence to Non-sexual crimes of violence – Serious assault and attempted murder

Sexual crimes

  • Split Other sexual crimes into five categories:
    • Causing to view sexual activity or images
    • Communicating indecently
    • Threatening to or disclosing intimate images
    • Indecent photos of children
    • Other sexual crimes

Crimes of dishonesty

  • No changes

Damage and reckless behaviour

  • Change the name from Fire-raising, vandalism etc. to Damage and reckless behaviour
  • Split Vandalism etc. into two categories: Vandalism and Reckless conduct

Crimes against society

  • Change name from Other crimes to Crimes against society
  • Split Drug crimes into two categories: Drugs – possession and Drugs – supply

Coronavirus Restrictions

  • No changes


  • Split the Miscellaneous offences group into two groups: Antisocial offences and Miscellaneous offences (multiple new categories)
  • Remove Common assault and Stalking (reclassifying as Non-sexual crimes of violence)
  • Change name from Motor vehicle offences to Road traffic offences

Crime codes relating to the (mis)use of bikes moved from Miscellaneous offences to Road traffic offences. The User Guide provides more details on the crime codes affected.

For information on the impact of these changes, please see the Technical Report on statistical impact of changing to new groups section of the consultation report.

5.5. Calculating rates per 10,000 population

Figures on incidents of domestic abuse in this publication are presented both as number of incidents and as rates per 10,000 population. These rates are calculated using the mid-year population estimates from the National Records of Scotland. Mid-2021 population estimates are used in this bulletin.



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