Recorded Crime in Scotland, 2005/06

Statistics on crimes and offences recorded and cleared up by the eight Scottish police forces in 2005/06

8. Notes on statistics used in this bulletin


8.1 The statistical return from which most of the figures in this bulletin are taken is a simple count of the numbers of crimes and offences recorded and cleared up by the police. Only returns from the eight Scottish home forces are included in this bulletin. One return is made for each council in Scotland and these are aggregated to give a national total. Amendments (such as the deletion of incidents found on investigation not to be criminal) which arise after the end of the financial year are not generally incorporated.

8.2 In 1993 information was collected for the first time from other police forces, such as the British Transport Police. This practice has been continued, but these figures have not been included in the main body of the bulletin. Thus, in addition to those crimes and offences referred to throughout the bulletin there were, in total, 3,038 crimes and 5,858 offences recorded by the British Transport Police, Ministry of Defence and Civil Nuclear Constabulary (previously known as the UK Atomic Energy Authority) in 2005/06. The crime clear-up rate was 31 per cent and the offences clear-up rate was 41 per cent.

8.3 The figures included in the motor vehicle offences group do not include stationary motor vehicle offences dealt with by the issue of a fixed penalty ticket (some 106,000 offences, mostly parking and waiting offences, or failure to display a valid excise licence, in 2004/05). However, offences dealt with under the vehicle defect rectification scheme and offences for which the procurator fiscal offers a fixed penalty are included in the figures. In addition to this, moving traffic offences which are the subject of a police conditional offer of a fixed penalty are also included, e.g. speeding, traffic directions offences.

Recording issues

8.4 In one criminal incident, several crimes or offences may occur - e.g. a house may be broken into and vandalised and the occupants assaulted. In multiple offence incidents, all the offences are counted rather than one for the incident as a whole; that is, the counting system is offence based rather than incident based. An offence may have more than one victim - for example in robberies - and be committed by more than one offender - e.g. some assaults and housebreakings. (Note that for murder, attempted murder and culpable homicide, the number of crimes recorded is equal to the number of the victims). Thus the statistics in this bulletin are not directly comparable with statistics on action taken against offenders, as one offence may lead to several persons being charged. Equally, an offender may be charged with several offences. The statistics for recorded number of crimes given in this bulletin are also not directly comparable with statistics collected in England and Wales for the recorded number of notifiable offences. This is mainly due to differences in the counting rules; for notifiable offences the counting system is, wherever possible victim based rather than offence based. The Home Office introduced new counting rules for notifiable offences, and expanded their coverage on 1 April 1998.

8.5 In Scotland, assault is a common law offence. In order to distinguish between serious and minor assaults police forces use a common definition of what is a serious assault.

8.6 Attempts to commit an offence are included in the statistics, in general in the same group as the substantive offence.

Reporting practices

8.7 These statistics do not of course reveal the incidence of all crime committed. Not all incidents are reported to the police. The Scottish Crime Survey, a survey of crime victims, suggested that in Scotland victims reported 49 per cent of incidents to the police in 2002, compared with 58 per cent in 1999, 50 per cent in 1995 and 53 per cent in 1981. The two reasons most commonly given by victims for not reporting to the police were that the incident was considered by them to be too trivial or that the police could not have taken any action in any case.

8.8 Many offences, for example, speeding or possession of drugs, have no victim other than perhaps the perpetrator and are discovered and recorded as a result of police activity rather than by being reported to the police by the public. Hence the strength and deployment of the police forces mainly determine the numbers of such offences recorded.

Crimes and offences cleared up

8.9 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.

For some types of crime or offence the case is cleared up immediately because the offender is "caught in the act", e.g. motoring offences. In Scots law, the confession of an accused person to a crime would not in general be sufficient to allow a prosecution to be taken as corroborative evidence is required. Thus, a case cannot be regarded as "cleared up" on the basis of a confession alone. In some cases there is sufficient evidence but a prosecution cannot be brought, for example, because the accused has left the country. In such cases, the offender is said to have been traced and the crime is regarded as cleared up. The other terms in the definition describe the various actions that must be taken by the police against offenders.

8.10 Certain motor vehicle offences are not always recorded in cases where police forces are unable to clear-up the offence ( e.g. speeding offences where the driver is untraceable). Clear-up rates for motor vehicle offences in these circumstances are artificial. Thus, clear-up rates for the motor vehicle group are not included in the bulletin.

8.11 Clear-up rates in excess of 100 per cent can arise where offences recorded in one year are cleared up during the following year.


8.12 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.

8.13 The detailed classification of crimes and offences used by The Scottish Executive to collect criminal statistics contains about 360 codes. These are grouped in the bulletin as shown on pages 27 and 28.

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

- Nil
* non-definable percentage change (eg 1 year has a value of zero)

8.15 Clearly, only a limited selection of tables can be included in any statistical bulletin. Further analyses of recorded crime statistics can be supplied on request once the bulletin is published. This includes available information relating to time periods other than those covered in the bulletin. In certain cases a fee is charged. For details of what can be provided please telephone Mrs Anne Reilly on 0131 244 2635 or e-mail:

Scottish Crime and Victimisation Survey

8.16 Summary findings from the 2004 Scottish Crime and Victimisation Survey were published earlier this year and are available at:

Details of findings reports from previous crime surveys are listed below. These include modular reports which focus on specific crime-related issues.

Further information

  • Drug Misuse in Scotland: Findings from the 2004 Scottish Crime and Victimisation Survey
  • Scottish Crime Survey 2003
  • The 2000 Scottish Crime Survey: First Results: Crime and Criminal Justice Research Findings No. 51
  • The 2000 Scottish Crime Survey: Overview Report
  • The 2000 Scottish Crime Survey: Analysis of the Ethnic Minority Booster Sample
  • Domestic Abuse: Findings from the 2000 Scottish Crime Survey
  • Drug Misuse in Scotland: Findings from the 2000 Scottish Crime Survey
  • Housebreaking in Scotland: Findings from the 2000 Scottish Crime Survey
  • Impact of Crime on Victims: Findings from the 2000 Scottish Crime Survey
  • Vehicle Crime in Scotland: Findings from the 2000 Scottish Crime Survey
  • Violence in Scotland: Findings from the 2000 Scottish Crime Survey
  • Young People and Crime in Scotland: Findings from the 2000 Scottish Crime Survey

All of the above can be found on the Scottish Executive web site

For more information about the Scottish Crime and Victimisation Survey, please contact Barry Stalker: telephone 0131 244 6934 or e-mail




Non-Sexual Crimes Of Violence

(Also referred to as Violence)

Serious assault etc. -

Includes murder and culpable homicide (including the statutory crime of causing death by dangerous driving or causing death by careless driving while under the influence of drink or drugs). Furthermore, an assault is classified as serious if the victim sustained an injury resulting in detention in hospital as an in-patient or any of the following injuries whether or not he was detained in hospital: fractures, internal injuries, severe concussion, loss of consciousness, lacerations requiring sutures which may lead to impairment or disfigurement or any other injury which may lead to impairment or disfigurement.

Robbery -

Includes offences involving intent to rob.

Other -

Includes threats and extortion and cruel and unnatural treatment of children.

Crimes of Indecency

(Also referred to as Indecency).

Rape & Attempted Rape -

Comprises rape and assault with intent to rape.

Indecent Assault -


Lewd and indecent behaviour -(Previously titled "Lewd and libidinous practices")

Comprises lewd and libidinous practices against children and indecent exposure.

Other -

Includes offences connected with prostitution.

Crimes Involving Dishonesty

(Also referred to as Dishonesty)

Housebreaking -

Includes commercial as well as domestic premises.

Theft by opening a lockfast place ( OLP) -


Theft from a motor vehicle by OLP -


Theft of motor vehicle -


Shoplifting -


Other theft -

Includes theft of pedal cycles.

Fraud -

Includes statutory fraud.

Other -

Includes forgery, reset and embezzlement.

Fire-Raising, Vandalism Etc

(Also referred to as Vandalism)

Fire-raising -


Vandalism, etc. -

Includes malicious mischief, vandalism and reckless conduct with firearms.

Other Crimes

Crimes against public justice -

Includes perjury, resisting arrest, bail offences (other than absconding or re-offending) and wasting police time.

Handling offensive weapons -

Comprises carrying offensive weapons, restriction of offensive weapons legislation.

Drugs -

Includes importation, possession and supply of controlled drugs.

Other -

Includes conspiracy and explosives offences.


Miscellaneous Offences

Minor Assault -


Breach of the peace -


Drunkenness -


Other -

Includes offences against local legislation, offences involving animals/plants, offences against liquor licensing laws and offences against environmental legislation.

Motor Vehicle Offences

Dangerous and careless driving -

Prior to 1992 this was known as "reckless and careless driving".

Drunk driving -

Comprises driving or in charge of motor vehicle while unfit through drink or drugs, blood alcohol content above limit and failing to provide breath, blood or urine specimens.

Speeding -


Unlawful use of vehicle -

Comprises driving while disqualified, without a licence, insurance, test certificate, vehicle tax and registration and identification offences.

Vehicle defect offences -

Comprises construction and use and lighting offences.

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