Annex 5: Upcoming coding changes and Future considerations
Changes to the Coding of Recorded Crimes and Offences:
7.41. Changes made to the rules governing the coding and counting of crimes and offences within the Scottish Crime Recording Standard ( SCRS) must be approved by the Scottish Crime Recording Board ( SCRB) ( Annex 2 provides background information on the role of the Board). In March and July 2016 the Board approved four changes to the coding of crimes and offences, which were enacted for the 2016-17 reporting year (i.e. the year immediately following the statistics presented in this Bulletin). Further information on these changes and their likely statistical impact is shown below.
7.42. Offences relating to Serious Organised Crime ( SOC) - The SCRB has decided that the crime code 11008: Offences relating to serious organised crime, which currently sit within Group 1 'Non-sexual Violent Crime', should be transferred to Group 5 'Other Crimes' under the crime code 40001: Offences relating to serious organised crime. This decision was based on the fact that SOC is not technically a violent crime, and any crime related to an incident of SOC is also recorded in the statistics. Therefore any associated violent crime would already be counted within Group 1. The number of SOC cases recorded in 2015-16 was relatively small (38 out of 6,775 Group 1 Crimes). The 2016-17 Recorded Crime Bulletin will be the first to reflect this change. As both Group 1 and Group 5 crime groups are included within overall Recorded Crime, the transfer will have no impact on total figures. Statistics for previous years will also be back-revised within the 2016-17 Bulletin, to ensure time series continuity for Group 1 and Group 5 is unaffected.
7.43. Handling Obscene Material - The SCRB has decided that the offence code 59001: Handling obscene material, which currently sits within Group 6 'Miscellaneous Offences', should be split into 2 separate offence codes. One new offence code (59004: Communications Act 2003 (sexual)) to cover sexual communication offences (i.e. the sending of sexual/offensive/obscene/ menacing messages by means of public electronic communications) and the original offence code (59001: Handling obscene material) to cover the displaying or distribution of obscene material, the import of prohibited goods to the UK or the sending of obscene or indecent articles through the post. This decision was based on a desire to identify what proportion of Handling Obscene Material offences were based on sexual communication offences, to support future consideration of the statistical classification of this offence. Statistics for 2016-17 will be the first to reflect this split, which will have no impact on the overall figures for Group 6 'Miscellaneous Offences'.
7.44. Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Bill - The Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Bill received royal assent in November 2015. The SCRB has approved 3 new crime codes to capture the charges introduced following the passage of this bill. These are 11010: Slavery or forced labour, 11011: Human organ offences (both Group 1 - Non-sexual Crimes of Violence) and 39023: Breach of a trafficking & exploitation order ( Group 5 - Other Crimes). The existing crime code 18009 - Immoral traffic ( Group 2 - Sexual Crimes) will also be used to record some of the charges resulting from the new Bill.
Statistics for 2016-17 will be the first to reflect these changes. It will not be possible to give a precise account of the impact on statistical continuity as some of the crimes and offences that were superseded by the 2015 Bill cannot be separately identified within the existing statistics. There may be some transferal of activity within Group 1 'Non Sexual Violent Crime', but the overall impact on this group is likely to be negligible. No significant impact is envisaged for Group 2 'Sexual Crime' as the new offences from the Bill replace existing offences included within this group. The new code for Breach of a Trafficking & Exploitation Order could increase the volume of activity recorded under Group 5 'Other Crimes', though it is likely any increase will be small. Statisticians will monitor the number of cases recorded against these new codes, with a view to confirming in the 2016-17 publication that the impact on overall Crime Groups was indeed limited.
7.45. Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 - The Psychoactive Substances Bill received royal assent in January 2016. The Crime Board has approved 2 new crime codes to capture the charges introduced following the passage of this bill. These are 44007: Psychoactive substance: production, import/export, supply or possession in custody and 44008: Psychoactive substance: other offences (both Group 5 - Other Crimes). Statistics for 2016-17 will be the first to reflect these changes. Statisticians will monitor the number of cases recorded against these 2 new codes, so as to inform users of the impact on Group 5 Other Crimes in the 2016-17 publication.
7.46. At present, legacy police force systems are still in place for the recording of incidents and crimes. This means we can only receive an aggregate count of crimes and offences recorded by the police. We note that many of our users have an interest in more analysis of individual level crime data, which would allow, for example, new information on the age and gender of victims and perpetrators. As the development of Police Scotland's recording system proceeds, we will consult with our statistical users at the appropriate time.
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