Group 3 – Crimes of Dishonesty
Number of Crimes of dishonesty recorded in 2016-17:
Crimes of dishonesty account for almost half (47%) of all crime recorded in Scotland in 2016-17. Between 2015-16 and 2016-17, the number of Crimes of dishonesty recorded by the police in Scotland decreased by 2%, from 115,789 to 113,205.
Chart 10 below shows the number of Crimes of dishonesty from 1971 onwards. Crimes of dishonesty increased for a long period, peaking in 1991. Since then they have generally reduced, decreasing by 74% up to 2016-17. These crimes are now at the lowest level since 1971, the first year for which comparable crime groups are available.
Chart 10: Crimes of dishonesty recorded by the police, 1971 1 to 1994 then 1995‑96 to 2016-17 ( Table 10)
1. Crimes recorded for the present crime groups are not available prior to 1971.
The national rate of recorded Crimes of dishonesty decreased from 216 per 10,000 population in 2015-16 to 209 crimes per 10,000 population in 2016-17. Rates varied significantly by local authority area, with the highest rate in the City of Edinburgh (357 per 10,000 population) and the lowest in the Na h-Eileanan Siar (49 per 10,000 population) ( Table 13).
Chart 11 shows the four largest categories within Crimes of dishonesty over the last ten years, and gives an indication of the trend and scale of each category. Other theft has consistently been the biggest contributor to Crimes of dishonesty. Shoplifting and Fraud remain at a similar level to 2007-08, whereas Housebreaking and Other theft have decreased over time. While not displayed in Chart 11, the numbers of Theft by opening a lockfast place ( OLP), Theft from a motor vehicle by OLP and Theft of a motor vehicle have decreased over the ten years from 2007-08 to 2016-17 ( Table 6).
Chart 11: Crimes of dishonesty (showing four largest categories) in Scotland, 2007-08 to 2016-17
Other theft consists of Theft of pedal cycles, Theft from a motor vehicle not elsewhere classified and Theft not elsewhere classified (excl. motor vehicles).
This category is the largest in Crimes of dishonesty, accounting for 40% of these crimes. Over the ten year period from 2007-08 to 2016-17, Other theft has seen a decrease of 30%, including a 3% decrease from 46,419 in 2015-16 to 45,173 in 2016-17.
All but two local authorities, the Orkney Islands and North Ayrshire, recorded a decrease in this category over the ten year period.
Shoplifting accounted for a quarter (25%) of Crimes of dishonesty. Shoplifting increased by 1% from 28,424 in 2015-16 to 28,650 in 2016-17. The number of shopliftings recorded has remained comparatively stable over the ten year period.
Changes by local authority varied over the ten year period, with almost two thirds (20) showing a decrease in Shoplifting. Between 2015-16 and 2016-17 just under half (15) of Scotland's local authorities recording an increase in the number of shopliftings.
Housebreaking accounted for 14% of Crimes of dishonesty. Over the ten year period from 2007-08 to 2016-17 this crime has decreased by 36%, including a 8% decrease from 17,637 in 2015-16 to 16,299 in 2016-17. Table A2 shows that this has been driven by a 8% decrease in housebreaking of domestic dwellings.
All but three local authorities recorded a decrease in this category over the ten year period. Between 2015-16 and 2016-17, three quarters (24) of local authorities showed a decrease.
Crimes of Fraud account for 7% of Crimes of dishonesty. Despite small fluctuations over the ten year period from 2007-08 to 2016-17, this category has seen a decrease of 7%. Numbers increased by 6% between 2015-16 and 2016-17.
Changes by local authority varied widely over the ten year period, with 19 showing a decrease in Fraud. Between 2015-16 and 2016-17, over half (18) of all local authorities showed an increase.
Theft from a motor vehicle by opening a lockfast place ( OLP):
Theft from a motor vehicle by OLP accounted for 3% of Crimes of dishonesty. Over the ten year period from 2007-08 to 2016-17 this crime has seen a large decrease of 74%, including a 17% decrease from 4,684 in 2015-16 to 3,888 in 2016-17.
All local authority areas recorded a decrease in this category over the ten year period. Between 2015-16 and 2016-17, over half (18) of all local authorities showed a decrease.
Theft of a motor vehicle:
Theft of a motor vehicle accounted for 5% of Crimes of dishonesty. Over the ten year period from 2007-08 to 2016-17 this crime has seen a large decrease of 57%, however there was a 4% increase from 5,028 in 2015-16 to 5,216 in 2016-17.
All but one local authority recorded a decrease in this category over the ten year period. Between 2015-16 and 2016-17, over a third (12) of all local authorities showed an increase.
Other crimes of dishonesty:
Other crimes of dishonesty includes Reset, Corruption, Embezzlement and other crimes of forgery which are not classified elsewhere.
Other crimes of dishonesty account for 4% of total Crimes of dishonesty. Over the ten year period from 2007-08 to 2016-17 this crime has seen a decrease of 21%, however there was a 6% increase from 4,004 in 2015-16 to 4,228 in 2016-17.
All but five local authorities recorded a decrease in this category over the ten year period. Half of all local authorities showed a decrease between 2015-16 and 2016-17.
Theft by opening a lockfast place ( OLP):
Theft by opening a lockfast place ( OLP) accounted for 2% of Crimes of dishonesty. Over the ten year period from 2007-08 to 2016-17, this crime has seen a large decrease of 70%, including a 12% decrease from 2,193 in 2015-16 to 1,940 in 2016-17.
All but two local authority areas recorded a decrease in this category over the ten year period. Between 2015-16 and 2016-17, about two thirds (22) of local authorities showed a decrease.
HMICS Crime Audit 2014
This bulletin primarily uses HMICS's 2016 Crime Audit to provide a quality assessment of crime recording decisions. This latest audit did not sample any incidents relating to Group 3 dishonest crime, as the previous audit in 2014 found compliance in this area to be good. As such, more value was to be gained from testing damage related incidents and crimes - which had not been included in the 2014 Crime Audit.
The 2014 Crime Audit included a specific focus on housebreaking. Of the 1,341 crimes examined that resulted from housebreaking incidents, 95% were counted and classified correctly. The audit report stated that this 'good Test 2 compliance rate reflects the fact that housebreaking incidents appear to be scrutinised carefully by crime management units and are therefore more likely to be accurate'. Most Test 2 errors related to the classification of the crime, and most of these related to whether the security of the building had been overcome (see page 24 of the 2014 HMICS report for further information).
Of the 1,664 incidents  examined, 94% were closed correctly. Around half of the incidents which failed Test 1 did so because the incident record had not been updated with the results of the enquiry and the initial inference of criminality had not been dispelled. Around a quarter of Test 1 fails were thought to be crimes where the incident had not been followed up or the complainers had become uncooperative. Other Test 1 errors included incidents where the items stolen were deemed to be of no monetary value and therefore did not merit a crime report and where the owner of the property broken into was reporting the break-in 'for information only'.
HMICS Crime Audit 2016
As noted above, the more recent 2016 Crime Audit included a sample of incidents reported to the police which never resulted in a crime report (non-crime related incidents). Of the 1,138 incidents examined, 91.0% were closed correctly, a statistically significant improvement on the 2014 Audit. Despite this improvement, the audit found that some errors persisted in relation to allegations of fraud, particularly cyber-enabled fraud (potentially a Group 3 Dishonest Crime). The audit noted that some officers may be uncertain as to how to respond to these incidents and there is some confusion about the role of Action Fraud. HMICS have recommended that Police Scotland should work with Action Fraud to clarify its role in Scotland.
Further information on the 2016 audit, including definitions of terminology and tests used, can be found in Annex 2.
In addition to information on police recorded Crimes of dishonesty, the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey ( SCJS) provides a complementary outlook on some Crimes of dishonesty through asking respondents about their experiences of property crime.
A more detailed examination of comparisons between the SCJS and recorded crime is made within Chapter 5.
Key points from the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey:
Of the 688,000 crimes measured by the SCJS in 2014-15, 502,000 (73%) were property crimes. It is estimated that around 13% of adults in Scotland were a victim of property crime in 2014-15.
In 2014-15, vandalism accounted for 36% of property crime, followed by other household theft (including bicycle theft, 31%), personal theft (excluding robbery, 21%), all motor vehicle theft related incidents (8%) and housebreaking (4%).
Further detail on the comparable crime set is available in Section 5.3. As outlined there and in the Annex of the 2014-15 SCJS, the comparable acquisitive crime group in the SCJS includes theft or damage to personal or household property (including vehicles) which are included in a number of recorded crime groups, including Group 3 (Crimes of dishonesty) and Group 7 (Motor vehicle offences).
As outlined in Section 5.3, recorded acquisitive crime figures in the comparable category decreased by 24% between 2008-09 and 2014-15, while for the same period the SCJS estimates of acquisitive crime decreased by 23% (a statistically significant change in the SCJS results).
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