Racist Incidents Recorded by the Police in Scotland, 2012-13

Racist Incidents Recorded by the Police in Scotland, 2012-13

4. Notes on the statistics used in this bulletin

4.1 Background

In response to the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry in 1999, the then Scottish Executive produced an action plan to progress the recommendations set out in the MacPherson report, which included the setting up of a statistical collection covering racist incidents.

The definition of a racist incident as given by Sir William MacPherson in his report on the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry is:

"A racist incident is any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person."

In the context of the data for this bulletin, the above definition is used.

4.2 Returns

The returns from which figures in this bulletin are taken are a simple count of the number of incidents recorded by the police and the crimes, victims/complainers and perpetrators arising from these incidents. Only returns from the eight Scottish police forces are included in this bulletin.

The figures for Tayside Police in this statistical bulletin differ from those previously published in the Scottish Policing Performance Framework (SPPF) Annual report, due to updated information which was not available at the time of compilation of the SPPF report. The figures in this publication reflect the most up to date information for 2012-13.

Under the Code of Practice for Official Statistics, the estimated costs of responding to statistical surveys and data collection are to be published. The estimated cost of compliance for supplying and validating the data for this bulletin was: £4,000.

Details of the calculation methodology are available on the Scottish Government Crime and Justice website at:

4.3 Recording issues

In an incident, one or more victims/complainers may be involved, and there may be one or more perpetrators. There may be no criminal element, or several crimes may be recorded by the police.

In Scotland, assault is a common law offence. In order to distinguish between serious and common assault, police forces use a standard definition of what constitutes a serious assault. Definitions are listed in note 4.6.

In previous years, there has been an inconsistency in the number of crimes recorded by the eight Scottish police forces. Some forces were reporting only the racially aggravated crimes associated with the racist incident and others have reported all crimes associated with the racist incident, including those with no racial aggravation, for example motoring offences. As a result, there may be have been an over count in the number of crimes recorded as part of a racist incident. Police forces have been reviewing how they return this data to us and as a result, data is becoming more consistent.

Due to recording issues, Lothian & Borders Police force was unable to provide data for 2009-10 to 2012-13 on: who first reported the incident; any agency to whom the incident was first reported; the main language of the victim/complainer and perpetrator; and the action taken against the perpetrator.

Due to changes in recording practices by Lothian & Borders Police force, the classification used to describe the location of an incident resulted in an increase in the number of incidents being recorded at 'sporting venues' and 'other businesses' in 2008-09. This corresponded to a decrease in the number of incidents recorded at locations classified as 'shops'. Lothian & Borders Police force was unable to provide information on the location of an incident in the 2009-10 data submission, and these have been classified as 'unknown'. However, the problem was rectified in time for the provision of 2010-11 data.

During the production of this statistical bulletin, an inconsistency in the counting of incidents which resulted in the recorded of a crime or offence was identified in data prior to 2011-12. This has been amended and has resulted in a slight update to the figures previous published in Table 1.

4.4 Reporting practice

These statistics do not record all occurrences of racist incidents in Scotland as not all incidents are reported to the police. The 2010-11 Scottish Crime and Justice Survey estimated that approximately 39% of all crimes came to the attention of the police.

4.5 Crimes and offences cleared up

The definition of "cleared up" is noted below. This definition came into force with effect from 1 April 1996.

A crime or offence is regarded as cleared up where there exists a sufficiency of evidence under Scots law, to justify consideration of criminal proceedings notwithstanding that a report is not submitted to the Procurator Fiscal because either

(i) by standing agreement with the Procurator Fiscal, the police warn the accused due to the minor nature of the offence, or

(ii) reporting is inappropriate due to the non-age of the accused, death of the accused or other similar circumstances.

4.6 Definitions

Incident - an incident is any communication by whatever means about a matter which comes to the police attention which they may be required to act upon.

Crime - an act committed in violation of the law (common law or statute). Any single incident may include a number of crimes, or there might be no criminal element. See section 5.

Victim - the individual who perceived the incident to be racist. In any incident, there could be one or more victims, and in some cases, no victim.

Note that the victim may not necessarily be the person at whom the racially aggravated behaviour was targeted. For clarity, 'victim/complainer' has been referred to throughout the bulletin to reflect the fact that a victim or any other person can perceive an incident to be racist.

Perpetrator - the person who was deemed responsible for the incident. In any incident, there could be one or more perpetrators.

Racially-aggravated - the offender asserts towards the person affected, malice and ill-will based on that person's membership (or presumed membership) of a racial group; or the course of conduct or action is motivated (wholly or partly) by malice and ill-will towards members of a racial group based on their membership of that group.

Racially-aggravated harassment - a racially-aggravated course of conduct, amounting to harassment.

Racially-aggravated conduct - to act in a manner, including speech, which is racially aggravated and which causes, or is intended to cause, a person alarm or distress.

Serious assault - A serious assault is an assault or attack in which the victim sustains an injury resulting in detention in hospital as an inpatient for the treatment of that injury, or any of the following injuries, whether or not detained in hospital; fractures (mean the breaking or cracking of a bone), internal injuries, severe concussion, lacerations requiring sutures which may lead to impairment or disfigurement or any other injury which may lead to impairment or disfigurement.

Please note that nose is cartilage, not bone, so a 'broken nose' should not be classified as a serious assault unless it meets one of the other criteria.

Ethnicity - 2009-10 was the first year in which forces were asked to use the new classification of 21 groups (see section 4.10) to record the ethnic group of victim/complainer and perpetrator. An individual is asked to 'self declare' their ethnic group. Due to differences in recording systems used, not all police forces have been able to provide data using the new classification codes. For these forces, data was provided on the basis of the 13 group classification instead.

Due to the constraints of the Strathclyde Police Vulnerable Person Database (VPD), it has not been possible to extend the number of categories collected for ethnicity classification in racist incidents that occurred in the Strathclyde Police force area. However, Police Scotland is in the process of developing and rolling out a new national Interim VPD system which will collect ethnicity data based on the 21 classifications.

In 2012-13, Strathclyde Police were the only force who remained unable to provide the data on the basis of the 21 level classification.

In order to compare ethnic classifications over the time period covered by the bulletin, the new ethnicity classifications have been aggregated to match the previous classification of 13 groups. This aggregation is detailed in section 4.10.

In Table 8, changes in the figures of the ethnic group of victims/complainers, from 2008-09 to 2012-13, may in part be due to the changes implemented in classification codes. Therefore, trend data within these ethnic classification groups should be treated with caution. This is less of a problem for Table 12, as the groups have been aggregated to avoid the reporting of small numbers which could result in self-identification of individuals.

4.7 Total incidents, crimes, victims/complainers and perpetrators

Table 16 shows the total number of incidents, crimes, victims/complainers and perpetrators recorded by the police. Note that crimes, victims/complainers and perpetrators can have multiple entries per incident as well as multiple entries with one another (i.e. one crime may have several victims/complainers/perpetrators).

Table 16 Total incidents, crimes, victims/complainers and perpetrators, by financial year, 2004-05 to 2012-13

  2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13
Incidents 4,519 5,112 5,322 5,247 5,145 4,960 4,911 5,389 4,628
Crimes 5,734 6,444 6,654 6,676 6,617 6,470 6,173 6,472 5,228
Victims/Complainers1 5,059 5,820 5,963 5,790 5,995 5,783 5,906 6,311 5,312
Perpetrators 3,321 4,100 5,082 5,013 5,447 5,504 5,562 5,281 4,541

1. The victim/complainer is the person who perceived the incident to be racist. The complainer may not necessarily be the person(s) at whom the racist incident was targeted. See note 4.6.

4.8 Classification

Contraventions of Scottish criminal law are divided for statistical purposes into crimes and offences. The term "crime" is generally used for the more serious criminal acts; the less serious are termed "offences", although the term "offence" may also be used in relation to serious breaches of criminal law. The distinction is made only for working purposes and the "seriousness" of the offence is generally related to the maximum sentence that can be imposed.

The detailed classification of crimes and offences used by The Scottish Government to collect criminal statistics contains approximately 475 crime codes. These are grouped in the bulletin as shown in note 5.

Threatening or abusive behaviour and Stalking were introduced on 6 October 2010 when the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 was implemented. These offences are included in the 'Breach of the peace etc.' category.

Offensive behaviour at football and Threatening communication were introduced when the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act 2012 was implemented on 1 March 2012. These offences are included in the 'Breach of the peace etc.' category.

4.9 Scottish Crime Recording Standard

It was expected that the number of crimes would have been affected by the implementation (from 1 April 2004) of the Scottish Crime Recording Standard (SCRS), which means that no corroborative evidence is required initially to record a crime related incident as a crime if so perceived by the victim. This was expected to increase the number of minor crimes recorded by the police, such as minor crimes of vandalism, common assaults and breach of the peace.

Previously, where there were crimes which the victim did not wish the police to actively investigate (for instance, if they were concerned that this could lead to more trouble), the crime itself would not have been recorded. Therefore the SCRS is thought to have caused an increase in the number of crimes recorded where there is no real possibility of clearing up the crime, which has an impact on the clear up rates.

4.10 Ethnicity classifications

In order to compare ethnic classifications over the time period covered by the bulletin, the newest ethnicity classifications have been aggregated to match the previous classification of 13 groups.

Ethnic groups in data collection:

Group Number Ethnic group Group Number Mapped to
1 White Scottish 1 White British
2 White English 1 White British
3 White Welsh 1 White British
4 White Northern Irish 1 White British
5 White British 1 White British
6 White Irish 2 White Irish
7 White Gypsy/Traveller 3 Other White background
8 White Polish 3 Other White background
9 Other White 3 Other White background
10 Mixed or multiple ethnic groups 4 Mixed
11 Pakistani, Pakistani Scottish or Pakistani British 6 Pakistani
12 Indian, Indian Scottish or Indian British 5 Indian
13 Bangladeshi, Bangladeshi Scottish or Bangladeshi British 7 Bangladeshi
14 Chinese, Chinese Scottish or Chinese British 12 Chinese
15 Other Asian, Asian Scottish or Asian British 8 Other Asian background
16 African, African Scottish or African British 10 African
17 Caribbean, Caribbean Scottish or Caribbean British 9 Caribbean
18 Black, Black Scottish or Black British 11 Other Black Background
19 Other African, Caribbean or Black - please state 11 Other Black Background
20 Arab 13 Other
21 Other 13 Other

This classification was introduced into the 2009-10 data collection, with five of the eight forces able to deliver the data using the classification in that year. The classification was used by six forces in 2010-11 and 2011-12. In 2012-13, seven of the eight forces have been able to return data using this more detailed classification.

Table 8a presents a table of data based on this more detailed classification. Due to the differences in the number of police forces using the classification over the four year period, data has been presented as a percentage breakdown of the total (where ethnicity was known).

On 26 September 2013, the National Records of Scotland published information on Ethnicity from the 2011 Census.

The following table gives the ethnicity of the population of Scotland from the 2001 and 2011 Censuses.

Scottish Population by Ethnic Group, 2001 and 2011

Ethnic group 2001 Census Population 2011 Census Population
Percentage of Total Population Percentage of Minority Ethnic Population Base Percentage of Total Population Percentage of Minority Ethnic Population Base
White British 95.5 n/a 4,832,756 91.8 n/a 4,862,787
White Irish 1.0 n/a 49,428 1.0 n/a 54,090
Other White 1.5 n/a 78,150 3.2 n/a 167,530
Mixed 0.3 12.6 12,764 0.4 9.4 19,815
Indian 0.3 14.8 15,037 0.6 15.5 32,706
Pakistani 0.6 31.3 31,793 0.9 23.4 49,381
Bangladeshi 0.0 1.9 1,981 0.1 1.8 3,788
Other Asian 0.1 6.1 6,196 0.4 10.0 21,097
Caribbean 0.0 1.7 1,778 0.1 2.8 5,810
African 0.1 5.0 5,118 0.6 13.8 29,186
Other Black 0.0 1.1 1,129 0.0 0.6 1,182
Chinese 0.3 16.0 16,310 0.6 16.0 33,706
Other 0.2 9.4 9,571 0.3 6.8 14,325
All Minority Ethnic Population 2.0 100.0 101,677 4.0 100 210,996
All Population 100 n/a 5,062,011 100 n/a 5,295,403

Source: National Records of Scotland

The overall population has increased by 5% between the 2001 and 2011 censuses and while the population of White British has increased by 16%, the proportion that this makes up of the total has decreased from 96% to 92%. There has also been a notable increase in the population share of Other White (which includes Polish and Gypsy/Traveller).

Of the minority ethnic population, there was a 55% increase in the number of people who identified themselves as Pakistani. This is the largest individual category accounting for 23% of the minority ethnic population. However, this represents a decrease of 8 percentage points in the proportion of minority ethnic population due to increases in some of the other groups. There was a notable increase in the African group which has increased from 5% to 14% of the minority ethnic population. However, in 2001 'African' was a tick box within the 'Black' category; in 2011 'African' was included as a separate category. Comparisons between 2001 and 2011 should therefore be treated with caution.

4.11 Other

The following symbols are used throughout the tables in this bulletin:

- = Nil

* = <0.5

n/a = Not applicable

Percentage figures given in tables and charts have been independently rounded and may not sum to the relevant totals or sub-totals.


Email: Jan Young

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