Data information of recorded crimes and offences involving firearms: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Information requested

You asked for further information from the data used to produce the Recorded crimes and offences involving firearms, Scotland, 2016-17 & 2017-18 Official Statistics. This included the type of firearm used and whether it was licensed/unlicensed and whether any were classed as obsolete/prewar/antique. You requested this information for the last five years.


I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested.

In terms of your request, the Scottish Government does not hold any more detailed information on the type or age of any firearms used to commit crimes and offences beyond that of the broad category presented in the tables below. The data provided by Police Scotland for the production of these statistics involves a manual interrogation of each crime record by Police Scotland analysts who select the relevant weapon type from a pre-determined list (i.e. Shotgun, rifle etc.). As such we do not hold any information about whether the weapon was classed as obsolete calibre/pre-war/antique.

Information on whether individuals who commit crimes and offences with firearms are in possession of the relevant licences is routinely provided to the Scottish Government by Police Scotland. However, some caution should be taken when comparing changes in these figures from year to year as they do not form part of the Official Statistics on Crimes and Offences involving firearms in Scotland and as such are not subject to the same quality assurance procedures that are conducted on the rest of this data. Additionally, some Police Scotland divisions were unable to provide this information in 2017-18, as such there is an increase in the number of records with no information for this year.

The tables included as part of this response contain the type of license held by the main offender in each incident, by the main firearm used for the past five years.

There is a further caveat to be aware of when interpreting this information. The most recent edition of the Recorded crimes and offences involving firearms publication included improvements to the data collection process that affected the comparability of data across time. These improved methods were used to extract new information for 2016-17 and 2017-18, and to revise data for 2015-16. This change was made to improve the accuracy of the information by reducing the risk that a police recorded offence involving a firearm has not been included in the data. As a result, any direct comparison with previously published statistics for the period prior to 2015-16 will not provide a reliable measure of change, as earlier figures may have underestimated the number of offences involving firearms. Further information on the data collection process can be found in Section 3.2 and Section 3.4 of the most recent publication which is available at the following link: 2017-18/

For the reason outlined above, we have presented the information requested as two tables, one for the two years prior to the change in data collection (i.e 2013-14 and 2014-15) and a second for the years following this change (i.e. from 2015-16 onwards).

The information presented here only relates to those offences that were ‘cleared up’. A crime or offence is regarded as cleared up where there exists a sufficiency of evidence under Scots law to justify consideration of criminal proceedings. No information is held on the licence held by the offender where the crime is not considered to be cleared up. More information on the definition of crimes that are cleared up can be found in the Recorded Crime in Scotland, 2017-18 bulletin at the following link:

About FOI
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at

FOI-201900001941 - Information Released


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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