Statistical Bulletin Criminal Justice Series CrJ/2003/9 HOMICIDE IN SCOTLAND, 2002
ANNEX 10. Notes on Statistics included in this Bulletin
10.1 The statistics provided in this bulletin are derived from information provided by police forces on each case they initially record as homicide. They do not include cases where the police did not initially record a homicide, e.g. a suspected drugs overdose, but where the Procurator Fiscal subsequently determined that a homicide charge was appropriate. (In 2002, there were eight such cases re-classified as homicide by Procurators Fiscal). The bulletin also does not include figures for statutory homicide, that is of causing death by dangerous or reckless driving. (In 2002 there were 36 such crimes recorded by the police, including 1 of death by careless driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol).
10.2 Since the last bulletin in this series was published, the General Register Office for Scotland (GROS) has revised its mid-year population estimates for 1982-2000. The estimates for these years have been revised in line with the mid-2001 population estimates published on 30 September 2002, which were based on the results of the 2001 Census. The figures included in this bulletin on numbers of homicide victims and accused per million resident population use the revised GROS mid-year population estimates and may therefore differ marginally from those published previously.
10.3 The year in which a homicide is counted in these statistics is the year in which the homicide was recorded by the police. This is not necessarily either the year in which the offence took place or, where a person was brought to trial for the crime, the year in which the case was disposed of by the court.
10.4 A single case of homicide is counted for each incident involving murder or culpable homicide irrespective of the number of perpetrators or victims. Where more than one person is accused of killing one or more victims, the main accused for the purposes of these analyses is the one who received the severest penalty. If more than one possible main accused is identified, then the first recorded on the statistical return is selected. Similarly if a person is accused of killing more than one victim, the main victim is the one for which the accused received the severest penalty, or where more than one possible main victim can be identified the first one recorded on the statistical return is selected.
10.5 Many tables and charts in this bulletin include data from 1996, the year in which the shootings at Dunblane occurred. It should be assumed throughout that the 17 homicides in this incident are included, unless otherwise stated. Sixteen of the victims were in the 5-15 year old age group and 12 were female. The Lockerbie bombing case (270 victims and 2 accused) is included in the 1988 figures for homicide cases in Table 1.
10.6 A case is regarded as being solved (or cleared up) if the police believe that there exists a sufficiency of evidence under Scots law to justify consideration of criminal proceedings, that is, in general if the police submit a report to the procurator fiscal. In some circumstances, for example death of a suspect, there may be no report submitted to the procurator fiscal but the case is still considered as cleared up. In some cases, there may be sufficient evidence but a prosecution cannot be brought, for example, because the accused has left the country. In such cases the crime is also regarded as being solved. A case is regarded as unsolved, or not cleared up, if no accused person has been identified.
10.7 The initial classification of the case as murder or culpable homicide is made by the police and will generally be that of murder. This classification may be altered as a result of decisions taken in the course of criminal proceedings. Many of the cases initially classified as murder may later be classified as culpable homicides. Some cases initially classified as murder or culpable homicide will, on the basis of criminal proceedings, no longer be classified as such at a later date. This happens in cases where the court finds that a homicide had not in fact taken place at all, for example, the main accused person may be found guilty of a lesser offence, e.g. serious assault. The decision might be made not to proceed with the case if it is concluded for example that the victim committed suicide. Unless it is certain that the court's finding was that a homicide had not occurred, the case remains currently recorded as a homicide. Where a crime is unsolved, the initial classification is unaltered and the case is included in the currently recorded homicide cases.
10.8 For those cases with multiple accused which are currently recorded as homicide, the co-accused are included in the statistics in this bulletin regardless of whether or not they were ultimately charged with homicide. For example if the main accused person is found guilty of homicide by the court but the co-accused are found guilty of serious assault then the co-accused continue to be counted as persons accused of cases currently recorded as homicide.
10.9 The motive is as determined by the police. For homicides recorded before 2000 information was collected on up to two motives. For simplicity of presentation, only one motive for killing has been selected for each accused person. Where more than one motive was recorded, the first one given has been selected as the main motive unless it was a rage or quarrel, in which case the second one given has been selected. Similarly only one method of killing has been selected for each victim. The main method is taken to be the most serious of those methods recorded, in the following order of priority: shooting, sharp instrument, blunt instrument, hitting and kicking, strangulation, other.
10.10 In considering the relationship of the main accused person to a victim, partner includes: spouse, separated or divorced spouse, cohabite, lover, boy/girlfriend but not necessarily ex-boyfriend/girlfriend pre-2000, as these may have been recorded as simply acquaintances. Partner figures for 2000 onwards do include ex-boyfriend/girlfriend.
10.11 The percentage figures given in tables and charts have been independently rounded, so they may not always sum to the relevant sub-totals or totals.
Revisions to previously published figures
10.12 Statistical bulletin Homicide in Scotland 2000, page 11: the first sentence of section 5.5 should read as follows: "There were 93 appeals against convictions for culpable homicide and 209 against convictions for murder between 1991 and 2000."
10.13 The statistics included in this bulletin for the years 1993-2001 reflect the latest known information, i.e. as at 30 October 2003. Some figures may therefore have changed marginally from those published previously.
10.14 The following symbols are used throughout the tables in the bulletin
- = nil,
* = less than 0.5.
n/a = not available