Recorded Crime in Scotland 2012-13

Recorded Crime in Scotland for 2012-13

7. Notes on statistics used in this bulletin


7.1 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.

7.2 On 1 April 2013, the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 brought together the existing eight police forces into a single Police Service of Scotland. While data will no longer be returned by eight police forces, 2013-14 data will still be collected for the single Police Service of Scotland. As a result, the geographical levels at which data are presented in future statistical bulletins will be reviewed.

7.3 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 this bulletin. Thus, in addition to those crimes and offences referred to throughout this bulletin there were in total, 1,454 crimes and 3,756 offences recorded by the British Transport Police, Ministry of Defence Police and Civil Nuclear Constabulary in 2012-13. The crime clear up rate was 31% and the offence clear up rate was 51%.

7.4 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. 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.

7.5 During work on this publication, it was found that the number of parking offences from Grampian police was unusually high for previous years. It was discovered that the data return had included stationary parking offences which should have been excluded from the data return. Data for 2003-04 to 2011-12, have now been revised and this has reduced the number of Other motor vehicle offences, Total motor vehicle offences and Total offences for the affected years.

7.6 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 is: £2,500.

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

Recording issues

7.7 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 this example, crimes of housebreaking (which would include the vandalism) and assaults would be recorded. In multiple offence incidents more than one offence may be 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.

7.8 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.

Crime Statistics are published quarterly on the Office for National Statistics (ONS) website.

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

"An assault or attack in which the victim sustains 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 (the breaking or cracking of a bone. Note - nose is cartilage not bone, so a 'broken nose' should not be classified unless it meets one of the other criteria)
  • Internal injuries
  • Severe concussion
  • Lacerations requiring sutures which may lead to impairment or disfigurement
  • Any other injury which may lead to impairment or disfigurement."

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

Reporting practices

7.11 These statistics do not of course reveal the incidence of all crime committed. Not all incidents are reported to the police. The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS) 2010-11 estimated that 39% of crimes, as defined by the SCJS, were reported to the police. 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 (40%) or the police would not have been able to do anything (29%).

7.12 Some crimes and 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 crimes and offences recorded.

Crimes and offences cleared up

7.13 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. motor vehicle 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.

7.14 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 offences group are not included in the bulletin.

7.15 Clear up rates in excess of 100% can arise where crimes and offences recorded in one year are cleared up during the following year.


7.16 Contraventions of Scottish criminal law are divided for statistical purposes into crimes and offences. "Crime" is generally used for the more serious criminal acts; the less serious 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.

7.17 The detailed classification of crimes and offences used by The Scottish Government to collect criminal statistics contains about 475 codes. These are grouped in the bulletin as shown in Section 8.

7.18 For 2012-13 there have been a number of changes to the standard breakdowns included in the bulletin tables.

In April 2011 offences of Handling an offensive weapon and Drug crimes in prisons were reclassified from Other miscellaneous offences to offences of Handling an offensive weapon and Drug crimes respectively. For 2011-12 it was not possible to disaggregate either the offences of Handling an offensive weapon or Drug crimes that took place in prison. From April 2012 this disaggregation will be possible.

7.19 Clearly, only a limited selection of tables can be included in any statistical bulletin. Further analysis of recorded crime statistics can be supplied on request. 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 Jan Young on 0131 244 2635 or e-mail

UK Statistics Authority - Assessment Report

7.20 The United Kingdom Statistics Authority has designated these statistics as National Statistics, in accordance with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

Designation can be broadly interpreted to mean that the statistics:

  • meet identified user needs;
  • are well explained and readily accessible;
  • are produced according to sound methods; and
  • are managed impartially and objectively in the public interest.

Once statistics have been designated as National Statistics it is a statutory requirement that the Code of Practice shall continue to be observed.

The Assessment Report, which was published in June 2009, can be accessed via the following link:

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

- =The relevant legislation for this category was implemented in 2007-08.

~ =The relevant legislation for this category was implemented in 2010-11.

* = Crimes within this category were not separately identifiable before 2009-10.


Email: Jan Young

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