Recorded Crime in Scotland, 2015-16

Statistics on crimes and offences recorded and cleared up by the police in Scotland.

This document is part of a collection

7. Annexes

Annex 1: Data sources and definitions

Data collection:

7.1. 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 Chapter 8. Further information on crime codes can be found in the User Guide to Recorded Crime Statistics in Scotland, available via the following link:

7.2. 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, for each local authority, which the police have recorded and cleared up. Returns of quarterly data are submitted by Police Scotland and are used to produce a national total.

7.3. Amendments to crime and offence records will always arise after data has been submitted by Police Scotland to the Scottish Government. Some crime or offence records may, on further investigation by the police, be re-designated to not constitute a crime or offence (a process known as 'no-criming'). In other cases the original crime or offence may be re-classified, which could shift the record between different crime or offence groups (for example if a common assault was found on further investigation to be a serious assault it would switch from Group 6 Miscellaneous Offences to Group 1 Non-sexual Violent Crime).

7.4. Following the implementation of the Scottish Operational Management Information System ( ScOMIS) in Police Scotland, each quarterly submission of data to the Scottish Government contains revisions back to quarter 1 of the 2013-14 reporting year, reflecting the amendments described above. To assess the extent of these amendments, we have compared the crime and offence data published for 2014-15 (which was submitted to the Scottish Government in April 2015) with what ScOMIS reported for the same period one year later (April 2016). Table 12 shows the results of this exercise.

As with our analysis in the previous bulletin, this comparison confirms that the extent of further amendment to police crime and offence records following the original submission of data continues to be minimal at Scotland level. This gives users confidence that the published statistics for 2013-14 and 2014-15 still provide a sufficiently accurate measure of the extent of police recorded crimes and offences. On a proportional basis the biggest impact is on Group 5 Other Crime, where a net 857 fewer crimes have been recorded following no-criming and reclassification between crime groups . This has reduced the number of Other Crimes by 1.4% from 61,488 to 60,631.

Table 12: Revisions of crimes recorded by the police, Scotland, 2014-15

  Number & Percentage
Crime or Offence Group 2014-15 Reporting Year
Submitted in April 2015 Submitted in April 2016 Difference % Difference
Total Crime and Offences 635,848 633,942 -1,906 -0.3%
Total Crime 256,350 254,278 -2,072 -0.8%
Group 1 Non Sexual Violent Crime 6,357 6,434 77 1.2%
Group 2 Sexual Crime 9,557 9,671 114 1.2%
Group 3 Crimes of Dishonesty 126,857 125,616 -1,241 -1.0%
Group 4 Fire Raising / Vandalism etc. 52,091 51,926 -165 -0.3%
Group 5 Other Crimes 61,488 60,631 -857 -1.4%
Total Offences 379,498 379,664 166 0.0%
Group 6 Miscellaneous Offences 183,513 182,983 -530 -0.3%
Group 7 Motor Vehicle Offences 195,985 196,681 696 0.4%

7.5. We will repeat this exercise annually, as a quality assurance exercise, to confirm that further amendments remain minimal. Despite the fact only a very small proportion of records are amended following their original submission to the Scottish Government, it is important for National Statistics purposes that time series comparisons between 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 are on a like-for-like basis. As such the 2013-14 and 2014-15 data used in this bulletin remains that which was submitted in April 2014 and April 2015 respectively, to ensure this is consistent with the timetable being followed for the submission of data for 2015-16 (i.e. the same amount of time has elapsed for amendments to records for the three reporting years based on ScOMIS).

7.6. This analysis demonstrates that a more up-to-date set of figures are available from ScOMIS for 2013-14 and 2014-15 than included in this National Statistics publication. Given this we asked the Scottish Crime Recording Board [18] to assess whether any amendment to our revisions policy should be made before this 2015-16 publication. In light of the minimal level of change following the original submission of data, the Board concluded in December 2015 that no changes were necessary to our revisions policy as our current approach was simple to understand and kept open the possibility of future publications coming out earlier in the year.

7.7. Information on the data source used in the Recorded Crime bulletin series and supporting metadata can be found in the Data Sources and Suitability document which is available via the following link:

7.8. The main Scottish Government Statement of Administrative Sources covers all sources of administrative data used by Scottish Government statisticians. This statement can be found on the Scottish Government website at:

7.9. A separate statement of administrative source is available for Police statistics via the following link:

7.10. Information is collected from the British Transport Police and the Ministry of Defence Police, but these figures have not been included in the main body of this bulletin. Thus, the following crimes and offences were recorded in addition to those referred to throughout this bulletin:

Table 13: Crimes and offences recorded by the British Transport Police and the Ministry of Defence Police, and cleared up 13, as a percentage of those recorded, Scotland, 2015-16

  Number & Percentage
  Crimes Crime clear up rate Offences Offence clear up rate
Total recorded by British Transport Police and Ministry of Defence Police 1,495 35.3% 3,771 46.5%

Please see Notes for Tables at end of Chapter 6.

In 2015 Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland ( HMICS) published Crime Audit, British Transport Police, Scotland Division. HM Inspector of Constabulary for Scotland, Derek Penman, said: "The results of our audit provide clear evidence that BTP's Scotland Division crime recording processes are effective, ensuring the correct application of crime recording standards and counting rules''. Further information on the Audit is available via the following link:

Data publication in Police Scotland Quarterly Management Information Reports:

7.11. In addition to the National Statistics, Police Scotland publish management information on the number of crimes and offences recorded by the police. This is presented within their Quarterly Management Information Reports, which are available from the 'Our Performance' section of Police Scotland's website:

These reports are produced to demonstrate Police Scotland's commitment to transparency (alongside other regular reporting activity to the Scottish Police Authority). The information within these reports is presented on a cumulative quarterly basis, with the first quarter of a reporting year containing 3 months of data (from April to June), the second containing 6 months of data (from April to September) etc. The reports are typically published within 2 months of the period to which they refer.

The Quarterly Management Information Reports advise users that the data they contain on recorded crime is based on the Administrative Data available to Police Scotland at that time and not the National Statistics. The annual National Statistics published by the Scottish Government on police recorded crime are based on the same source of administrative information which has undergone further quality assurance work, including additional dialogue with Police Scotland, in line with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

Data Definitions:

7.12. 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 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.

7.13. In Scotland, assault is a common law offence. In order to distinguish between serious and common assaults, Police Scotland use a common definition for serious assault:

"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."

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

7.15. Housebreaking can be broken down into different building types: Dwelling, Non-dwelling and Other property. Where 'domestic dwelling' is presented in the statistics, this refers to dwellings and non‑dwellings only.

Dwelling is defined as a house which is being used for (or fit to be used for) residential purposes. Non-dwelling is defined as all roofed buildings used for domestic purposes other than dwellings (for example Garages, Garden Huts, Outhouses etc.). Other property is defined as all roofed buildings not used for residential or domestic purposes (for example commercial premises). Further information on the different types of building included under each of these headings is available on page 258 of the Scottish Crime Recording Standard (the manual that details rules and guidance for how crimes should be recorded):


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