Plans for ethnicity analysis from Scottish Crime and Justice Survey report

Paper two from the Cross Justice Working Group on Race Data and Evidence group's meeting on 16 June 2021.


The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS) is a large-scale social survey which asks people about their experiences and perceptions of crime in Scotland. The survey enables people in Scotland to tell us about their experiences of, and attitudes to, a range of issues related to crime, policing and the justice system, including crime not reported to the police.

The sample size and the frequency of the survey have varied since it began in its current format in 2008, with around 5,600 face-to-face interviews completed in 2019/20 with adults (aged 16 or over) living in private households in Scotland. The sample is designed and weighted to be representative of all private residential households across Scotland.

More information, and results from the SCJS, can be found on the SCJS website.

Current ethnicity analysis

Given the size of the annual sample used for the SCJS, and the relatively small proportion of Scotland’s population that are from an ethnic minority, an insufficient number of responses are collected each year to undertake comparative analysis by ethnicity.

The Scottish Surveys Core Questions (SSCQ) combines some data from the SCJS, the Scottish Household Survey and the Scottish Health Survey on a number of core and harmonised questions. This gives a much larger sample of around 20,000 and allows for some analysis by ethnicity to be done. The crime-related questions are the perception of crime in local area and confidence in the ability of the police. Results can be found on the SSCQ website.

Planned ethnicity analysis

The SCJS team are planning to undertake a piece of investigative research over the coming months into how experiences and perceptions of crime may vary for people of different ethnicities in Scotland.

For example this could include, though isn’t limited to – differences in experiences of crime, perceptions of crime and how it’s changed locally/nationally, feelings of personal safety, and views of policing and the Justice System.

This will be done by combining multiple SCJS years of data (2008/09 to 2019/20) into a pooled sample. Combining multiple years creates a larger sample size which means the dataset can be analysed by smaller sub-groups, including respondent ethnicity.

This is a technical piece of work where the value in combining survey years to produce new analysis will not be clear until the research has concluded. We will keep the data and evidence on race working group updated on progress, including any plans for publicising our findings.

Future ethnicity analysis

The current SCJS contract ends in early 2023, and a reprocurement process for survey sweeps beyond this will commence shortly. This will give an opportunity to consider whether anything more can be done with the SCJS in future to collect data that can be analysed by ethnicity. Whilst this work is at an early stage, we would be happy to engage with member organisations further on any views they may have, either as a follow up to the meeting or through wider engagement activity planned with users.

Discussion points

  • do you have any reflections on the approach outlined above to produce new analysis by ethnicity using the proposed pooled sample?
  • are there any particular areas of interest covered by the SCJS for which the pooled sample analysis by ethnicity could look at?
  • are there any gaps in analysis and evidence on ethnicity for which the pooled analysis could help to fill?
  • do you have any views on how the SCJS could be adapted in future years to gather more evidence on people’s views and experience of crime and justice issues by ethnicity?
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