Recorded crime in Scotland statistics: FOI release

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

Information requested

Police Scotland's 'Force Quarterly Bulletin' statistics report that at Q3 of 2020-21, the number of violent crimes stood at 6,773. This covered the period of April-December 2020. According to the Scottish Government's recorded crime in Scotland statistics for December 2020, the number of violent crimes recorded during that period was 6,677. The Scottish Government statistics are derived from a Police Management information system so may I request the reason for this discrepancy in figures.

For example, are more crimes included in Police Scotland's figures, were they extracted at different dates etc.


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 re-designated to not constitute a crime or offence (a process known as ‘no-criming’). In other cases the original crime or offence may be re-classified, which could shift the record between different crime or offence groups (for example if a common assault was found on further investigation to be a serious assault it would switch from Group 6 - Miscellaneous Offences to Group 1 - Non-sexual Crimes of Violence). As a result, the figures may vary depending on when data is extracted, and as suggested in your question the approach differs for the two reports highlighted.

The Scottish Government introduced a new monthly series of Official Statistics from April 2020 to inform users about the volume and type of crimes and offences recorded in Scotland during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The data for these bulletins is extracted at the same time each month, these snapshots are generally not revised in future editions (unless an error is discovered) and the previous data is accumulated across the contributing months. This ensures that a consistent amount of time has passed in relation to each of the contributing months (albeit more time has passed since the information for 2019-20 was originally recorded).

The information used to produce Police Scotland’s management information reports is refreshed when extracted and this can lead to differences between the information in the monthly Official Statistics and the information in Police Scotland’s quarterly management information reports. For example, data for April and May 2020 will have had several months for changes to have been made, but less time will have passed for the data from November and December 2020 to have been updated.

The approach to our monthly reporting allows data to be published rapidly (i.e. around two to three weeks after the reporting period ends) to help to assess the ongoing impact of the pandemic and actions taken to limit the spread of the virus. However, it should be noted that the annual National Statistics for 2020-21 (when published) will provide the most robust source of information on crimes recorded by the police, and how these have changed over time. The information used to produce the annual Recorded Crime in Scotland publication ( is extracted at the same time each year (i.e. April) and, similar to the monthly statistics, this information is generally not revised in future years. This means long term comparisons can be made on a consistent, like-for-like basis.

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


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

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

Back to top