Recorded crime in Scotland 2017-2018

This bulletin presents statistics on crimes and offences recorded and cleared up by the police in Scotland, disaggregated by crime/offence group and by local authority.

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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 around 500 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 Crimes of Violence).

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 2016-17 (which was submitted to the Scottish Government in April 2017) with what ScOMIS reported for the same period one year later (April 2018). Table 12 shows the results of this exercise.

As with our analysis in previous bulletins, 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 to 2016-17 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 1,060 fewer crimes have been recorded following no-criming and reclassification between groups. This has reduced the number of Other Crimes by 1.9% from 54,946 and 53,886.

Table 12: Revisions of crimes recorded by the police, Scotland, 2016-17

  Number & Percentage
Crime or Offence Group 2016-17 Reporting Year
Submitted in April 2017 Submitted in April 2018 Difference % Difference
Total Crime and Offences 527,612 525,838 -1,774 -0.3%
Total Crime 238,921 236,398 -2,523 -1.1%
  Group 1 Non Sexual Violent Crime 7,164 7,190 26 0.4%
  Group 2 Sexual Crime 11,092 11,128 36 0.3%
  Group 3 Crimes of Dishonesty 113,205 111,828 -1,377 -1.2%
  Group 4 Fire Raising / Vandalism etc. 52,514 52,366 -148 -0.3%
  Group 5 Other Crimes 54,946 53,886 -1,060 -1.9%
Total Offences 288,691 289,440 749 0.3%
  Group 6 Miscellaneous Offences 150,523 150,140 -383 -0.3%
  Group 7 Motor Vehicle Offences 138,168 139,300 1,132 0.8%

7.5. We will continue to repeat this exercise annually, as a quality assurance exercise, to confirm that further amendments remain minimal. Despite the fact that 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 to 2017-18 are on a like-for-like basis. As such the 2013-14 to 2016-17 data used in this bulletin remains that which was submitted in April 2014, April 2015, April 2016 and April 2017 respectively[15], to ensure this is consistent with the timetable being followed for the submission of data for 2017-18 (i.e. the same amount of time has elapsed for amendments to records for the four 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, 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17 than is included in this National Statistics publication. Given this, we asked the Scottish Crime Recording Board[16] to assess whether any amendment to our revisions policy should be made before the 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 up13, as a percentage of those recorded, Scotland, 2017-18

  Number & Percentage
Crimes Crime clear up rate Offences Offences clear up rate
Total recorded by British Transport Police and Ministry of Defence Police 1,517 41.1% 3,721 37.3%

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 at that time, 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 vandalized, 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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