Domestic abuse: statistics recorded by the police in Scotland - 2019/20
Characteristics of victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse incidents recorded by the police in Scotland in 2019/20.
This document is part of a collection
Annex 1: Terminology and context
6.1. 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) 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'.
6.2. 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. an accused 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.
6.3. Crime groupings
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 5,300 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 400 crime or offence codes, which in turn are typically grouped into 35 broader categories, and further into seven crime and offence groups. The latest version of the charge code list can be accessed online. This classification enables consistent and comparable reporting between criminal justice organisations.
Crimes and offences within this publication are presented into the seven main groupings, as shown in the text below. Where statistical available broad sub-groupings are also provided.
Crimes (groups & sub-groups)
Group 1: Non-sexual crimes of violence
- Homicide etc.
- Attempted murder and serious assault
- Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018
- Other non-sexual crimes of violence
Group 2: Sexual crimes
- Rape and attempted rape
- Sexual assault
- 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: Fire-raising, vandalism etc.
- Vandalism etc.
Group 5: Other crimes
- Crimes against public justice
- Handling offensive weapons
- Other crime
Offences (groups & sub-groups)
Group 6: Miscellaneous offences
- Common assault
- Breach of the peace etc.
- Drunkenness and other disorderly conduct
- Urinating etc.
- Other miscellaneous
Group 7: Motor vehicle offences
- Dangerous and careless driving
- Driving under the influence
- Unlawful use of motor vehicle
- Vehicle defect offences
- Seat belt offences
- Mobile phone offences
- Other motor vehicle offences
As discussed in Section 4.2, some potential changes in the approach to the seven group structure may be applied in future as a result of the Scottish Crime Recording Board 2019 consultation. Users will be kept informed of any developments relating to this work through the ScotStat network.
6.4. 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-2019 population estimates are used in this bulletin.
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