Crime codes for filling a false police report: FOI release

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

Information requested

1. All current crime codes associated with filing a false police report.

2. The crime codes associated with filing a false police report that were in operation prior to 1 April 2019.

3. The current crime codes associated with filing a false police report when that report is “aggravated” e.g. when the false report relates to a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 or there are minors (children) involved.

4. The description associated with all of the above crime codes of filing a false police report i.e. what the code specifically relates to.


With regards to the first and second part of your request noted above, the filing of a false police report (before or after 1 April 2019) would be recorded under one of the following crime codes, depending on the circumstances:

  • 38003 - Public mischief (including wasting police time)
  • 38004 - Falsely accusing (named) person of crime

It should be noted that wasting police time can involve a multitude of different situations where police time has been wasted, and this does not necessarily have to be linked to a false complaint of crime.

In relation to the third part of the request, the same crime codes (38003 and 38004) would apply and the crime could be aggravated by race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity (if the filing of a false police report was motivated by malice or ill-will towards a group of persons based on the group being defined by reference to one or more of these characteristics). Additionally, the characteristics of age and variations in sex characteristics will become aggravations once the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act 2021 comes into force.

It is possible that incidents involving falsely accusing a person of a crime may form part of a course of conduct that would also result in the recording of a crime under the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 (for courses of conduct after 1 April 2019) or an offence of Stalking (under the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010). However, this would depend on the circumstances of individual cases. Please see the SCRS guidance for more information on the recording of these crimes.

The Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 introduced a statutory aggravation that the accused committed the offence of abusive behaviour towards a partner or ex-partner (under section 1(1) of this legislation) in a way which involved a child.

With regards to the fourth part of the request, I have separately attached a copy of the latest version of the Scottish Crime Recording Standard (SCRS) – Crime Recording and Counting Rules. Page 372 of the SCRS guidance includes information and examples in relation to the recording of crimes under codes 38003 and 38004.

Pages 36 and 37 of the SCRS also includes the following examples of crime which should be updated to ‘no crime’:

Example 1: A man reports that he was robbed. The crime is recorded and investigated but the complaint is shown to be false. The complainant is then charged with wasting police time.

‘No Crime’ the Robbery and record a Crime for Wasting Police Time

Example 2: A report of a sneak in theft of a handbag is reported and recorded. The complainer later telephones the police to say that her husband had placed her handbag within a cupboard  without her knowledge and no theft had taken place.

‘No Crime’ the Theft

The following line was included within your correspondence: “Information known to this requester is that there is a Scottish Government document with the title ‘Scottish Crime Recording Standard Crime Recording and Counting Rules’ from September 2020 that appears to show that filing a false police report when no crime has in fact taken place is now recorded as a “no crime" incident”.

It is not the case that filing a false police report would be recorded as a ‘no crime’ incident. With reference to the two examples above, Example 1 would result in the originally recorded crime of Robbery being reclassified as ‘no crime’, however a crime of Public mischief (including wasting police time) (38003) would be recorded.

Example 2 would not result in any crimes remaining recorded. However, this is due to the person who made the original report informing the police they had made an error and no crime had taken place. The bag was moved without their knowledge, not stolen, therefore this does not constitute a crime. In this example, the report was not malicious so no additional crime for wasting police time needs to be recorded, and they did not falsely accuse a named person of a crime so again an additional crime is not required.

In addition, other criminal behaviours would be recorded even if part of the report is false. For example, a victim may genuinely have been assaulted but falsely accuse someone (other than the real suspect) maliciously. This would not result in a ‘no crime’. This would result in an assault being recorded as well as a crime for falsely accusing a (named) person of a crime.

​​​​​​​About FOI
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FOI202100268294 - Information released


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Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

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