Non-sexual violence in Scotland: report

Findings on the most up to date, complementary statistics on non-sexual violence in Scotland.

Executive Summary 

This report brings together official data from a range of Scottish sources – both Criminal Justice and Health – to better understand the current profile and problem of non-sexual violence in Scotland. Key findings derived from the triangulation of a range of evidence sources include that, currently in Scotland:

  • Violent crime is rare but is experienced differently across the Scottish population.
  • The likelihood of experiencing violence is higher in deprived communities than it is elsewhere. 
  • Violence is now patterned less by age and gender than it was a decade ago.  
  • Violent crime as a whole is not concentrated within a specific age group and in contrast to a decade ago, there is now no difference in the likelihood of being a victim of violent crime between those aged 16 to 24 and those aged 25 to 44 years old.  Older age groups, in particular those aged 60 and above, are less likely to experience violence than others.
  • As with victims of violent crime, perpetrators are not concentrated within a specific age group and there is evidence to suggest that the average age of perpetrators has increased.
  • In contrast to the position a decade ago there is now no difference in the proportion of males or females estimated to have experienced violent crime in 2017-18, although sources show that males are more likely to experience some lower volume types of violence that include severe physical injuries. 
  • Gender does have an impact on the way violence is experienced, with women more likely than men to have experienced partner abuse (including psychological as well as physical abuse).

The report finds that most non-sexual violent crime in Scotland:

  • Is experienced by repeat victims. Fewer than 1 in every 100 adults were victims of repeated incidents of violence, but their experiences accounted for around three-fifths of violent crime in 2017-18.
  • Is carried out by males.
  • Is not reported to the police.

This report also considers how the profile of non-sexual violence has changed since a decade ago. Findings include:

  • All established sources show a notable reduction in non-sexual violence in the general adult population over the past decade, driven by decreases in the years following 2008-09 with broad stability seen more recently. 
  • Where violent crime is reported to the Police, the relatively narrower measure of police recorded violence (which excludes Common assault) showed a 10% increase in 2018-19. 
  • A broader measure of police recorded violence (including Common assault, and so closer to the SCJS definition) has shown more broad stability, with increases of less than 1% in both 2017-18 and 2018-19.
  • This decrease in violence over the past decade has been driven by a reduction in younger males’ involvement in violent crime.
  • There has been no change in the proportion of females who experienced violence.
  • The likelihood of experiencing violence for people who live in the 15% most deprived neighbourhoods has not shown any reduction since 2008-09, whilst the victimisation rate has fallen for people living in the rest of Scotland. 
  • Alcohol now plays a less prominent role in violent crime however sources indicate that around half of violent incidents experienced involve a perpetrator under the influence of alcohol. 
  • Around 1 in 3 violent incidents involved violent perpetrators under the influence of drugs, unchanged from a decade ago. 
  • Violent incidents where a weapon was used are less common now than they were in the last decade. Crimes of possessing, but not using, an offensive weapon in public are down over the longer term but have increased in the most recent years.
  • Violence in public spaces has fallen in recent years. Violent crime which takes place in private spaces has also decreased over the last decade across most types of violent crime. 
  • In both Scotland and England and Wales, the likelihood of experiencing violent crime is relatively small and has fallen since 2008-09. Direct comparisons of the relative levels of violence are not advised due to methodological and classification differences.



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