Statistics regarding crimes of racial discrimination during COVID-19 pandemic: FOI release

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

Information requested

statistics regarding the number and/or nature of crimes of racial discrimination, and racially motivated crimes during the period February - August 2020 (i.e. during the COVID-19 Pandemic). And, if you also have statistics on how these statistics relate to prior months and/or this time last year.


While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have some of the information you have requested. The reasons why we don't have the information are explained below.

The information we receive from Police Scotland to produce the Recorded Crime statistics are a simple count of the numbers of crimes and offences, for each local authority, which the police have recorded and cleared up. We do not receive information on the characteristics and circumstances of individual crimes (such as whether they included any aggravations) therefore we are unable to provide information on all racially aggravated offending or further details on the nature of crimes and offences.

Although it is not possible to gather information on all racist offending from the recorded crime database, information is available on the offences of racially aggravated harassment and racially aggravated conduct. However this does not include cases where racism was considered an aggravator to the main crime or offence (e.g. a racially aggravated common assault).

Please find separately attached a breakdown of racially aggravated offences for January to March 2020 and April to September 2020, as well as equivalent figures for 2019. It should be noted that these figures come from different data sources and are therefore not directly comparable. Please see the note below on Data Sources for further information. As we receive the data for the Recorded Crime National Statistics on a quarterly basis, it was not possible to provide a monthly breakdown for January to March 2019 and 2020.

Data Sources
Since 2013-14, the National Statistics on Recorded Crime in Scotland have been produced using data extracted from a single Police Scotland IT system called the Scottish Operational and Management Information System (ScOMIS). This data is then provided to the Scottish Government for the production of the National Statistics. In 2019, Police Scotland developed a new data repository called the Source for Evidence Based Policing (SEBP). The intention is that this will, in due course, become the official source of information for the recorded crime National Statistics, replacing ScOMIS. A preliminary review, looking at how changing from ScOMIS to SEBP impacts on the production of the Recorded Crime National Statistics, suggests that there is good alignment between both of these administrative systems.

Due to the current pandemic we have been producing more timely statistics on a monthly basis, which have been designated as Official Statistics. The latest bulletin was published on 22nd October and covers September 2020 (

In order to produce this bulletin within the shorter time frames, the information supplied by Police Scotland has been extracted from SEBP. As such, these figures use a different source from the most recent National Statistics on Recorded Crime in Scotland – and are therefore not directly comparable (notwithstanding the preliminary finding noted above that there is good alignment between the two systems).

In addition, amendments to crime and offence records will always arise after data has been submitted by Police Scotland to the Scottish Government. Some crime or offence records may, on further investigation by the police, be redesignated to not constitute a crime or offence, or the original crime or offence may be re-classified. The data for the more recent monthly Official Statistics bulletins was extracted a short time after the crimes were recorded. Hence there has been a much shorter time for amendments to have been made and so this information is likely to change to a greater extent as more time passes.

The annual Recorded Crime in Scotland bulletin remains the primary source of information on crimes and offences recorded by the police, and has been designated as National Statistics by the Office for Statistics Regulation. The most recent update, covering the 2019-20 reporting year, was published on 29th September ( When published, the annual National Statistics for 2020-21 will provide the most robust source of information on crimes recorded by the police, and how these have changed over time.

Please do let us know if you are unable to access the weblinks cited in this response (e.g. if you do not have internet access), and we would be happy to forward you a printed version.

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FoI-202000091498 - Information released


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Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
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