Publication - Statistics publication

Recorded crime in Scotland 2017-2018

Published: 25 Sep 2018
Directorate:
Safer Communities Directorate
Part of:
Law and order, Statistics
ISBN:
9781787812376

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.

118 page PDF

5.8 MB

118 page PDF

5.8 MB

Supporting files

Contents
Recorded crime in Scotland 2017-2018
3. Main Findings: Recorded Crimes and Offences in Scotland

118 page PDF

5.8 MB

Supporting files

3. Main Findings: Recorded Crimes and Offences in Scotland

Total Recorded Crime

Total Recorded Crime

Recorded crime in 2017-18 is at its second lowest level since 1974. The total number of crimes recorded by the police in Scotland in 2017-18 was 244,504. This is 1% higher than the level recorded in 2016-17 – when the additional crimes of handling an offensive weapon are excluded (Chart 1 and Table 6). If the additional crimes of handling an offensive weapon are included, crimes recorded by the police increased by 2%. This is not a reliable measure given those crimes of handling an offensive weapon were not recorded prior to 2017-18.

Over the past ten years crime has been on a downward trend in Scotland, having decreased by over a third (35%) since 2008-09. Whilst this change will also be affected by the inclusion of additional crimes of handling an offensive weapon, this will have less of an impact when set against the long term changes in total crime recorded by the police and other legislative and procedural changes made to the recording of crime during this period. The small rise in recorded crime this year is set against a generally decreasing trend in recorded crime in Scotland, from a peak in 1991 when crime reached a record high of 572,921.

Chart 1: Total crimes recorded by the police, 1971 to 1994 then 1995-96 to 2017-18 (Table 10)

Chart 1: Total crimes recorded by the police, 1971 to 1994 then 1995-96 to 2017-18 ( Table 10)

Chart 2 shows the number of recorded crimes in each of the five crime groups since 1971 and gives an indication of the scale of each crime group. At 47%, Crimes of dishonesty account for almost half of all recorded crime in 2017-18. This was followed by Other crimes (24%), Fire-raising, vandalism etc. (21%), Sexual crimes (5%) and Non-sexual crimes of violence (3%). These individual groups will be discussed in more detail in the sections which follow.

Chart 2: Crimes recorded by the police by crime group, 1971 to 1994 then 1995-96 to 2017-18 (Table 10)

Chart 2: Crimes recorded by the police by crime group, 1971 to 1994 then 1995-96 to 2017-18 (Table 10)

Local Authority analysis:

When the additional crimes of handling an offensive weapon are excluded, fourteen local authorities showed an increase in total crime recorded between 2016-17 and 2017-18 (Chart 3, Table 6A). One local authority remained the same and the remaining 17 showed a decrease from the previous year. Notwithstanding the change in weapons crime and that year-on-year figures can vary across local authorities, the long term trend of decreasing crime is broadly the same across Scotland. Chart 4 shows that since 2008-09, all local authorities show a reduction in recorded crime, varying from 18% in East Lothian to 61% in Na h-Eileanan Siar.

In 2017-18, the largest number of crimes recorded were in Glasgow City, which includes 11% of Scotland’s population[1], but accounted for 18% (43,977 crimes) of all recorded crime in Scotland. It should however be noted that Glasgow’s daily population will be higher than its resident population as people travel into the city from surrounding local authority areas for work, leisure and other purposes. Crimes are recorded in terms of where they occur and not the home residency of the victim (where the two places are different locations). The comparison described above for overall crime levels should be viewed in this context – which will also likely apply to Scotland’s other city based local authorities.

Further explanation of these trends is set out in the following sections for each crime group. Please note that further local authority level data for Tables 5-8 can be accessed online via the following link: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Crime-Justice/Datasets/RecCrime

Chart 3: Change in total recorded crime between 2016-17 and 2017-18, by local authority area*

Chart 3: Change in total recorded crime between 2016-17 and 2017-18, by local authority area*

*When the additional crimes of handling an offensive weapon are excluded.

Chart 4: Change in total recorded crime between 2008-09 and 2017-18, by local authority area

Chart 4: Change in total recorded crime between 2008-09 and 2017-18, by local authority area

Crime rate per 10,000 population

There were 451 recorded crimes per 10,000 population in 2017-18, with urban areas recording the highest rates; Glasgow City (708 per 10,000 population), City of Edinburgh (645 per 10,000 population), Dundee City (602 per 10,000 population) and the Aberdeen City (547 per 10,000 population) (Table 14).

Chart 5: Total number of recorded crimes per 10,000 population1, 2017-18

Chart 5: Total number of recorded crimes per 10,000 population, 2017-18

1. Population estimates are as at mid-year 2017 from the National Records of Scotland (http://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/statistics-and-data/statistics/statistics-by-theme/population/population-estimates/mid-year-population-estimates)

Data Considerations

Changes to the recording of crimes of handling offensive weapons

As outlined above. Changes in recorded crime in 2017-18 should be treated with some caution due to the addition of newly recorded crimes of handling an offensive weapon. Further information on this procedural change and its impact on the statistics are available in Section 2.10.

Data collection process

National Statistics on total recorded crime are based on data which Police Scotland extract from their IT system (called the Scottish Operational and Management Information System (ScOMIS)) and submit to the Scottish Government. Prior to 2013-14 and the establishment of Police Scotland, the Scottish Government collected recorded crime data from the eight legacy forces, who in turn extracted the data from their own systems.

Despite the change in method of collection, the data presented in this section on total recorded crime (which comprises of Crime Groups 1 to 5) remains comparable both before and after 1st April 2013. The Scottish Government produced a Technical Report in 2014 which detailed the quality assurance work it carried out in reaching this conclusion: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Crime-Justice/PubRecordedCrime/TechnicalReport.

On 1 April 2004, the Scottish Crime Recording Standard (SCRS) was introduced to help maintain a victim orientated approach to crime recording. It was anticipated that this might increase the number of minor crimes recorded such as vandalism and minor thefts. It can be seen from Chart 1 that this did cause a slight increase in 2004-05 as expected, but that the downwards trend returned following this change to recording practice.

Data Validation

HMICS Crime Audit 2016: Background

This bulletin reports on the number of crimes and offences recorded by the police in Scotland. On 21st September 2016, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) published Crime Audit 2016. This audit assessed the extent to which police recording practices complied with the Scottish Crime Recording Standard and Counting Rules:
http://www.hmics.org/publications/hmics-crime-audit-2016.

HMICS audited 6,273 incidents reported to Police Scotland between 1st January and 31st March 2016. HMICS took several factors into account when deciding what to audit – including areas identified as weak in previous audits, areas of high risk or emerging concern, national and local policing priorities, and areas which have not previously been subject to independent audit. Five categories were included, three of which related to specific crime types:

  • Sexual crime
  • Violent crime
  • Vandalism (Damage)
  • Non-crime related incidents
  • No-crimes

HMICS Crime Audit 2016: National Results

The Audit found no systemic data quality issues around the recording of crimes and offences. The report found that ‘the quality of most incident and crime recording decisions by Police Scotland is good’. 92.7% of incidents were closed correctly[2] and 95.1% of crime was counted and classified correctly.

The report also found that No-criming practice was generally good, with 96.0% of the 876 cases which were initially thought to be a crime but were later re-designated as not being a crime following additional investigation, found to have been no-crimed correctly.

The Audit reported a significant reduction in the proportion of crimes recorded within 72 hours of being reported to the police, from 96.6% in 2014 to 90.8% in 2016. Whist the quality of recording decisions was found to be good overall, it did note evidence that delays in recording have contributed to a reduced level of compliance against the Scottish Crime Recording Standard (investigations can become more complex and detections harder to achieve if significant time has elapsed between reporting a crime and it being recorded by the police).

Non-crime related incidents are those incidents reported to the police which never result in a crime report. Of the 1,138 such incidents examined, 91.0% were closed correctly. This was a statistically significant improvement on HMICS’ results for the same category in 2014 (87.2%). The improvement has resulted from increased scrutiny of incidents.

Divisional Results

The Audit report states that there ‘are still some significant divisional variations in compliance rates’. Divisional compliance rates for Test 1 (whether an incident was closed correctly) ranged from 87.1% to 98.6% and for Test 2 (whether a crime was counted and classified correctly) from 90.7% to 98.8%.

The Test 1 compliance rate was significantly worse than Scotland as a whole for two of the 14 divisions; Ayrshire and Renfrewshire & Inverclyde. Four divisions performed significantly better (Dumfries & Galloway, Highland & Islands, Fife and Edinburgh). The result in Ayrshire for Test 2 compliance was on the borderline of being significantly worse than Scotland as a whole. Furthermore, the no-crime compliance rate in Lanarkshire was significantly worse than Scotland as a whole.

Readers should be aware of these factors when considering information relating to these three divisions. The following table shows the local authorities within these divisions:

Division

Local authorities

Ayrshire

East Ayrshire, North Ayrshire and South Ayrshire

Lanarkshire

North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire

Renfrewshire & Inverclyde

Renfrewshire and Inverclyde

Conclusion for the National Statistics

Overall this audit demonstrates that users of crime statistics can have confidence that crimes are being classified and counted correctly. As outlined above, users should be aware that crime statistics for some local authorities will be based on police divisions with lower compliance than the national average. Furthermore, as the audit is based on a sample survey of incident and crime records (rather than all records), the true value may differ slightly from the results in the audit. This is because sampling in this way is subject to a range of quantifiable and non-quantifiable error.

Further details from this audit in relation to compliance rates for specific crime types are provided within the relevant sections of this bulletin and Annex 2 on Quality of the Statistics.

Data Comparisons

In addition to the information on police recorded crime, crime in Scotland is also measured by the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS), a national survey with adults (aged 16 and over) living in private households which asks respondents about their experiences of crime. A comparison of the two sources is provided below[3].

Comparison with Recorded Crime (comparable crime subset):

Of the 712,000 crimes estimated by the 2016-17 SCJS, around 63 per cent (448,000) can be compared with police recorded crimes. Further detail on the comparable crime set is available in Section 5.3.

Both recorded crime figures and SCJS estimates show downward trends in the extent of comparable crime between 2008-09 and 2016-17 (down 39% in both cases). The reduction in SCJS estimated comparable crime, from 731,000 in 2008-09 to 448,000 in 2016-17 was a statistically significant change.

Group 1 – Non-sexual Crimes of Violence

Group 1 – Non-sexual Crimes of Violence

Number of Non-sexual crimes of violence recorded in 2017-18:

Non-sexual crimes of violence account for 3% of all crimes recorded in Scotland in 2017-18. Between 2016-17 and 2017-18, the number of Non-sexual crimes of violence recorded by the police in Scotland increased by 1%, from 7,164 to 7,251.

Chart 6 below shows the number of Non-sexual crimes of violence from 1971 onwards. Levels of violent crime increased for a long period, before entering a downward trend in 2002-03, however there have been increases in the last three years. Despite this, the number of Non-sexual crimes of violence has decreased by 55% since 2002-03.

Chart 6: Non-sexual crimes of violence recorded by the police, 19711 to 1994 then 1995‑96 to 2017-18 (Table 10)

Chart 6: Non-sexual crimes of violence recorded by the police, 19711 to 1994 then 1995‑96 to 2017-18 (Table 10)

1. Crimes recorded for the present crime groups are not available prior to 1971.

In 2017-18, the national rate of recorded Non-sexual crimes of violence remained at 13 crimes per 10,000 population. This varied by local authority area, with the highest rate in Glasgow City (25 per 10,000 population), and the lowest in the Na h-Eileanan Siar (3 per 10,000 population) (Table 14).

Chart 7 shows the four categories within Non-sexual crimes of violence over the last ten years, and gives an indication of the trend and scale of each category. In 2017-18, the volume of recorded crimes of Attempted murder and serious assault made up 58% of all Non-sexual crimes of violence. Crimes of Robbery and Other violence accounted for 21% and 19% respectively of Non-sexual crimes of violence. Homicide etc. continues to contribute a very small proportion (1%) to the total.

Chart 7: Non-sexual crimes of violence in Scotland, 2008-09 to 2017-18

Chart 7: Non-sexual crimes of violence in Scotland, 2008-09 to 2017-18

Attempted murder & serious assault:

Attempted murder and serious assault is the largest category in Group 1, accounting for 58% of all Non-sexual crimes of violence. Over the ten year period from 2008-09 to 2017-18, this category has seen a decrease of 35%. There was a decrease between 2008-09 and 2014-15, before figures rose in 2015-16 and flattened out over the two subsequent years. At least part of the increase in 2015-16 has been attributed by Police Scotland to the introduction of enhanced guidance for recording serious assault in January 2015 (see ‘Data Considerations’ section below).

All but two of Scotland’s 32 local authorities recorded a decrease in this category over the ten year period.

For the definition of Serious assault and the distinction between Serious assault and Common assault please see Paragraph 7.13 within Annex 1.

Robbery:

Robbery accounted for one fifth (21%) of Non-sexual crimes of violence. Over the ten year period from 2008-09 to 2017-18, this crime has seen a decrease of 47%, however there was an 8% increase from 1,435 in 2016-17 to 1,556 in 2017-18.

Five local authority areas recorded an increase in this category over the ten year period, with most of these increases being small in magnitude.

Along with the release of these statistics we have published the findings of a separate study into robbery. This was based on a sample of almost 1,000 crimes recorded by the police in 2008-09 and 2017-18, the time between which saw robberies in Scotland decrease by 47% or 1,407 crimes (from 2,963 to 1,556).

The vast majority (87%) of the total fall in police recorded robbery between 2008-09 and 2017-18 was due to fewer cases of victims being robbed in public spaces by strangers. The reduction in the number of those cases with a male victim was much larger than the reduction in cases with a female victim, though this might be expected as almost three-quarters (71%) of robbery victims were male in 2008-09.

Other types of robbery, such as robbery in a private space (like a residential property) or where the victim knew the perpetrator, have not noticeably reduced in volume since 2008-09. As such they had very little impact on the total fall in police recorded robbery over the past ten years.

Although the reduction in strangers committing public space robberies has driven the total fall in robbery since 2008-09, these factors still predominate the nature of robbery committed today – with 75% of robbery in 2017-18 happening in a public space and 63% being carried out by a stranger. Males still make up a majority of victims (60%).

However, as the fall in police recorded robbery over the past 10 years was driven by fewer public space robberies committed by strangers, robberies in private spaces or committed by someone known to the victim made up a greater proportion of robbery in 2017-18 than in 2008-09.

This suggests that whilst the police in Scotland face far fewer reports of robbery today than a decade ago, the characteristics of the smaller number of robberies that remain are now less homogenous.

The study also found that the average age of both a victim and perpetrator of robbery in 2017-18 was several years older than their counterparts from 2008-09. This reflected a particularly large fall in the estimated rate of both victimisation and offending for teenagers (aged 13 to 19 years) and people in their twenties.

Finally, the study found that robbery in 2017-18 was less likely to involve the use of a knife or bladed/pointed article than in 2008-09 (dropping from 43% to 35%).

Further information is available via the following link:

http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Research/by-topic/crime-and-justice/publications

Homicide etc.:

As well as Murder and Culpable homicide (common law), the Homicide etc. category included in this bulletin contains the crimes of:

  • Causing death by dangerous driving;
  • Causing death by careless driving when under influence of drink or drugs;
  • Causing death by careless driving;
  • Illegal driver involved in fatal accident; and
  • Corporate homicide.

Homicide etc. accounted for 1% of Non-sexual crimes of violence. This crime decreased by 7% from 105 in 2016-17 to 98 in 2017-18. The biggest contributor to this decrease was a drop in Murder which decreased by 9 cases whereas Culpable Homicide increased by four cases, driving related homicides (for example Causing death by dangerous driving) decreased by one and Corporate Homicide decreased by one over the year.

Other non-sexual violence:

The Other violence category includes crimes such as Cruel and unnatural treatment of children, Threats & extortion and Abduction, which together account for more than 80% of the crimes within this category. More detail is provided in Chapter 8.

Crimes recorded as Other violence account for 19% of Non-sexual crimes of violence. Over the ten year period from 2008-09 to 2017-18, this category has seen a large decrease of 54%, with a 2% decrease from 1,438 in 2016-17 to 1,408 in 2017-18. Over the ten year period, all but one local authority recorded a decrease in this category.

Data Considerations

As noted above, non-sexual crimes of violence increased by 1% between 2016-17 and 2017-18 from 7,164 to 7,251. Increases during the preceding years (2015-16 and 2016-17) were primarily due to a rise in Attempted murder & serious assault recorded by the police, whereas the 1% increase in 2017-18 has been driven by an increase in Robbery (up by 8% from 1,435 in 2016-17 to 1,556 in 2017-18).

When HMICS published an earlier audit of crime recording in 2013, they recommended that the definition used for serious assault within the Scottish Crime Recording Standard (SCRS) be reviewed and clarified, as some police officers sought greater clarity from the existing guidance. In response to this, enhanced guidelines as to the interpretation of serious assault were introduced in January 2015.

When publishing their Management Information report for Quarter 4 2015-16 in June 2016, Police Scotland advised that this action may have resulted in some crimes that would have been seen previously as common assaults now falling into the category of serious assault. This in turn may have led to an increase in overall levels of Group 1 non-sexual violent crime in 2015-16 (the first full year following the introduction of enhanced guidelines).

At this stage, complementary sources of information do not report a significant increase in levels of violence, albeit 2017-18 statistics are not yet available for all of them. Police recorded common assault (covered in more detail under Group 6 Miscelleanous Offences) decreased by 1% between 2016-17 and 2017-18. The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS) estimated a statistically significant decrease in violent crime of 27% between 2008-09 and 2016-17, whilst numbers of assault based emergency admissions to hospital fell 55% between 2007-08 and 2016-17 (more detail on these sources is provided below under Data Comparisons).

Data Validation

HMICS Crime Audit 2016

The HMICS Audit report included an examination of violent incidents. It should be noted that in addition to the crimes covered within Group 1 non-sexual crimes of violence, these incidents also included cases of Common assault (the figures for which are contained in this bulletin under Group 6 – Miscellaneous offences). Further information on this audit, including definitions of terminology and tests used, can be found in Annex 2.

Of the 1,693 crimes examined that resulted from violent incidents, 96.0% were counted and classified correctly. The audit found that 34 crimes had been under-counted and 15 had been over-counted. More than half of the under-counted crimes were for common assault; the most commonly over-counted crime was threatening and abusive behaviour, which was often recorded in addition to an assault where it should have been subsumed[4] instead.

A number of crimes (19) were classified incorrectly:

  • six assaults should have been serious assaults and one assault should have been a robbery;
  • one serious assault should have been an attempted murder;
  • three breaches of the peace should have been threatening and abusive behaviour under section 38 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010
  • five section 38 offences should have been assaults, one section 38 should have been a robbery and one section 38 should have been a serious assault; and
  • one culpable and reckless conduct should have been an assault.

The HMICS audit report notes that whilst classification errors were similar to those found in 2014, there has been improvement in some key areas. For example there were fewer cases in 2016 of more serious violent crimes being classified as less serious, and this may be partly due to extensive work by the crime registrars to ensure serious assaults are not wrongly classified as common assaults. However, it was also noted that the ‘errors involving section 38 offences (Threatening and Abusive behaviour) suggests that this offence might be at risk of being used as a ‘catch-all’ for violent behaviour.

Of the 1,986 violent incidents[5] examined in the audit, 93.0% were closed correctly. Test 1 errors for violent incidents generally arose because there was insufficient update on the incident to dispel an initial inference of criminality; there was a lack of follow-up regarding the allegation; the complainer became uncooperative; or the SCRS was misapplied.

Data Comparisons

This segment includes information that should be considered to widen contextual understanding of the data provided on Group 1 - Non-sexual crimes of violence. Detail is provided on a separate homicide bulletin, an analysis of assault-based emergency hospital admissions and the SCJS. Collectively this provides a complementary outlook on violent crime in Scotland.

Homicide

A separate Homicide in Scotland bulletin is produced by the Scottish Government that contains more detailed information on the crimes of Murder and Culpable homicide (common law). The data contained within the Homicide bulletin will differ from the data presented here for the following reasons:

  • The Homicide in Scotland bulletin does not cover all of the crimes included within the Homicide etc. category per this bulletin (as detailed above), such as Causing death by dangerous driving and Corporate homicide.
  • The data in the Homicide in Scotland bulletin are collected from the police separately to the data presented in this bulletin and are collected on an individual case basis. This allows characteristics of victims and accused, such as age and gender, as well as the circumstances of the homicide, to be collected and then included in the bulletin.
  • The data are extracted from police recording systems at different time points, which may result in reclassification of crimes, such as attempted murder to murder, not being revised in the collections for this bulletin, but are reflected in the Homicide in Scotland bulletin.

We therefore recommend that users interested in Homicide statistics should refer directly to the Homicide in Scotland bulletin series, which can be accessed at:
http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Crime-Justice/PubHomicide.

The next Homicide in Scotland statistical bulletin will contain data for 2017-18 and is scheduled to be published on 30 October 2018.

Emergency Hospital Admissions as a result of Assault

As highlighted above, there has been a 35% reduction in the number of attempted murders and serious assaults recorded by the police between 2008-09 and 2016-17, from 6,472 to 4,189. Another source of statistics on assault is ISD Scotland’s annual publication on hospital admissions due to unintentional injuries. This includes the number of emergency hospital admissions for assault. The latest figures (for 2016-17) are available at: http://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Emergency-Care/Publications/2018-03-06/2018-03-06-Unintentional-Injuries-Report.pdf?

It is not possible to make direct comparisons between the two sources. Not all cases of police recorded attempted murder or serious assault may include an emergency admission to hospital (treatment might only be required within the Accident and Emergency department or the complainer may not wish to seek medical treatment). Furthermore, not all emergency admissions to hospital for assault may be reported to the police. Depending on the type of injuries sustained by the complainer, some assault-based emergency admissions may be recorded as a common assault rather than a serious assault. However, as these sources both generally relate to how Scotland’s emergency services respond to the most serious types of assault, it would be anticipated that both should show similar trends over time.

There were 2,346 emergency hospital admissions as a result of assault in 2016-17, of which 517 were due to assault with a sharp object and 1,843 were other assaults. This represents a decrease of 55% in the total number of emergency admissions due to assault since 2008-09, including a 59% reduction in the number of emergency admissions due to assault with a sharp object. This comparison confirms that the significant reduction in police recorded crimes of attempted murder and serious assault over the past 10 years has also been broadly reflected in statistics for emergency admissions to hospital.

Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS)

In addition to the information on police recorded crime, crime in Scotland is also measured by the SCJS, a national survey with adults (aged 16 and over) living in private households which asks respondents about their experiences of crime.

It should be noted that violent crime as defined by the SCJS is not directly comparable with non-sexual crimes of violence recorded by the Police. Non-sexual crimes of violence (as used in police recorded crime) includes homicide, whilst common assaults (which make up the majority of SCJS violent crime) are included in this bulletin under Group 6 - Miscellaneous Offences. A more detailed examination of comparisons between the SCJS and recorded crime is made within Chapter 4.

Key points from the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey:

Of the 712,000 crimes measured by the SCJS in 2016-17, 231,000 (32%) were violent crimes. It is estimated that 2.9% of adults in Scotland were a victim of violent crime in 2016-17.

In 2016-17, minor assaults made up the vast majority of SCJS violent crime (85%), followed by serious assault (7%), attempted assault (4%) and robbery (3%).

Further detail on the comparable crime set is available in Section 5.3. As outlined there and in the Annex of the 2016-17 SCJS, violent crime in the SCJS includes assault and robbery, crimes which are included in Group 1 (Non-sexual crimes of violence) and Group 6 (Miscellaneous offences) in police recorded crime figures.

As outlined in Section 5.3, recorded violent crime figures in the comparable category decreased by 24% between 2008-09 and 2016-17, while for the same period the SCJS estimates of violent crime decreased by 27% (a statistically significant change in the SCJS results).

Group 2 – Sexual Crimes

Group 2 – Sexual Crimes

Number of Sexual crimes recorded in 2017-18:

Sexual crimes account for 5% of all crimes recorded in Scotland in 2017-18. The number of Sexual crimes recorded by the police in Scotland increased by 13% from 11,092 in 2016-17 to 12,487 in 2017-18.

Following the enactment of the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act 2016 on the 3rd July 2017, part of this increase includes 421 new crimes of disclosing or threatening to disclose an intimate image. If they had occurred prior to the 3rd July 2017, its possible some of these cases may have been in the statistics as a different crime or offence, however it’s likely the clear majority would not have been classified as a sexual crime. It is also the case that the enactment of this legislation extended the criminal law to criminalise certain conduct that previously may not have been illegal.

Chart 8 below shows the number of Sexual crimes from 1971 onwards. Sexual crimes have been on a long-term upward trend since 1974, and have increased every year since 2008-09. Sexual crimes are at the highest level seen since 1971, the first year for which broadly comparable crime groups are available.

Chart 8: Sexual crimes recorded by the police, 19711 to 1994 then 1995‑96 to 2017-18 (Table 10)

Chart 8: Sexual crimes recorded by the police, 19711 to 1994 then 1995‑96 to 2017-18 (Table 10)

1. Crimes recorded for the present crime groups are not available prior to 1971.

The national rate of recorded Sexual crimes increased from 21 crimes per 10,000 population in 2016-17 to 23 crimes per 10,000 population in 2017-18. This varied by local authority area, with the highest rate in Dundee City (41 per 10,000 population), and the lowest in East Dunbartonshire (10 per 10,000 population) (Table 14).

Whilst the specific age of the victim cannot generally be determined from the data supplied by Police Scotland, many of the sexual crime codes used by the police to record crime make it clear when the victim was aged under 18 (for example, Sexual assault of older male child (13-15 years))[6]. By adding up all these crime codes, we know that at least 40% of the 12,487 sexual crimes recorded in 2017-18 by the police related to a victim under the age of 18. This proportion is similar to the previous year.

Chart 9: Sexual crimes in Scotland, 2008-09 to 2017-18

Chart 9: Sexual crimes in Scotland, 2008-09 to 2017-18

Chart 9 shows the four categories within Sexual crimes over the last ten years, and gives an indication of the trend and scale of each category. The number of recorded crimes in the Sexual assault and Other sexual crimes categories have changed markedly over time, almost converging after 2010, which coincides with the implementation of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009. Information on the impact of Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 is available under Data Considerations below. The Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act 2016 has also had an impact on the number of Other sexual crimes recorded, with 421 new cases of disclosing or threatening to disclose an intimate image recorded in 2017-18. The proportion of Rape and attempted rape has remained fairly constant over time, whereas that of Crimes associated with prostitution has fallen.

Table A1 contains more detailed breakdowns for Sexual crimes.

Sexual assault:

Sexual assault accounted for 39% of Sexual crimes in 2017-18. This category has been on an upward trend since 2011-12, having increased by 66% since that time. This includes a 13% increase from 4,281 in 2016-17 to 4,826 in 2017-18.

The majority (29) of local authorities recorded an increase in sexual assault since 2008-09 and 24 recorded an increase between 2016-17 and 2017-18.

One of the main drivers behind the increase in Sexual assault between 2016-17 and 2017-18 was a 25% increase in crimes of Sexual assault against an adult 16+, accounting for three quarters (74%) of the overall increase.

Rape & attempted rape:

It should be noted that due to the implementation of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009, comparisons with data prior to 2010-11 should be treated with caution. Additional information relating to the implementation of this legislation is available in the ‘Data Considerations’ section below.

Rape & attempted rape accounted for 18% of Sexual crimes. There has generally been an upward trend in these crimes since 2010-11 with Rape & attempted rape increasing by 99% overall between 2010-11 and 2017-18. This includes a 20% increase from 1,878 in 2016-17 to 2,255 in 2017-18. Over half (21 out of 32) local authority areas recorded an increase in this category between 2016-17 and 2017-18.

Crimes associated with prostitution:

Crimes associated with prostitution account for 1% of Sexual crimes. Over the ten year period from 2008-09 to 2017-18, these crimes have seen a large fall of 82%, with a 55% decrease from 303 in 2016-17 to 136 in 2017-18.

The majority of crimes in this category (73%) are recorded in Aberdeen City and Glasgow City. Both of these local authorities have seen large decreases of 75% and 91% respectively over the last ten years.

Other sexual crimes:

The Other sexual crimes category includes crimes such as Communicating indecently, Taking, possessing and distributing indecent photos of children, Sexual exposure, Public indecency and Causing to view sexual images or activity. From 2017-18 onwards it also includes disclosing or threatening to disclose an intimate image.

As with Rape & attempted rape, it should be noted that due to the implementation of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009, comparisons with data prior to 2010-11 should be treated with caution. Further to this, the implementation of the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act 2016 has also had an impact on comparisons with data prior to 2017-18, as 421 new crimes of disclosing or threatening to disclose an intimate image were recorded in 2017-18, accounting for part of the increase in Other sexual crimes since 2016-17. Additional information relating to the implementation of this legislation is available in the ‘Data Considerations’ section below.

Other sexual crimes are the largest category in Group 2, accounting for 42% of Sexual crimes. This category has been on an upward trend since 2010-11, having increased by 198% within that time, including a 14% increase from 4,630 in 2016-17 to 5,270 in 2017-18. All local authority areas recorded an increase in this category over the period from 2010-11 to 2017-18.

Last year’s bulletin presented the findings of a research project into Other sexual crimes, based on a sample of around 2,000 crimes recorded by the police in 2013-14 and 2016-17. The research contains details about the victims, perpetrators and circumstances of these crimes.

Where identifiable, the clear majority of victims of ‘Other sexual crimes’ were female and the vast majority of perpetrators were male. The research also suggests that cyber enabled ‘Other sexual crimes’ (i.e. where the internet has been used as a means to commit the crime) contributed around half to the total growth in all recorded sexual crimes between 2013-14 and 2016-17. Those types of crime that have contributed most to the overall increase in ‘Other sexual crimes’ (‘Communicating indecently’ and ‘Cause to view sexual activity or images’) are more likely to have younger victims and younger perpetrators where they are cyber enabled, than where they are not. Further information is available via the following link:

https://www.gov.scot/Publications/2017/09/7838

Data Considerations

Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009

The implementation of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 on 1 December 2010 resulted in a redistribution of Group 2 crimes among the subcategories. Comparisons over time of the breakdown of Sexual crimes should therefore be treated with caution.The Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 widened the definition of Rape and therefore comparisons of the category Rape & attempted rape with data prior to 2010-11 should be treated with caution.

There are a number of crimes such as Indecent communication and Voyeurism which may have been recorded as Breach of the peace prior to the implementation of the Act, and which therefore would not have shown up as sexual crimes before December 2010. This coincides with the increase in Other sexual crimes in 2011-12. Therefore, comparisons of the category Other sexual crimes with data prior to 2010-11 should be treated with caution.

Taking, distribution etc. indecent photos of children

In 2010-11, incidents of Taking, distribution etc. indecent photos of children were transferred from Group 6 Miscellaneous offences to Group 2 Sexual crimes. At the time, figures were back-revised to 2009-10. As these incidents accounted for 5% of all Group 2 Sexual crimes in 2017-18, it should be noted that, although figures for this crime have increased over time, a small discontinuity is present in the time series for any analysis that spans 2009-10.

Communications Act (2003) Sexual

In 2017-18, incidents of Communications Act (2003) Sexual were transferred from Group 6 Miscellaneous offences to Group 2 Sexual crimes. A review of these cases determined many were similar in characteristic to the type of activity targeted by the new Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) 2016 Act and the remainder included incidents of a sexual nature that did not quite fit with the existing definition of Communicating Indecently or the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009, such as an individual sending the victim a sexual image of themselves. As such, it was decided by the Scottish Crime Recording Board that these offences would be more appropriately classified as sexual crimes within Group 2.

This change involves reclassifying some activity from an offence group to a crime group, and so this will result in a small increase in total recorded crime, with 301 cases recorded in 2017-18; however, as mentioned above, some of this activity would have moved in any event, due to the new ABSH legislation. Statistics for 2016-17 were back-revised within this 2017-18 bulletin, to ensure time series’ continuity is not affected for this year (there will be some discontinuity for earlier years as the Communications Act 2003 (sexual) cases were not separately identifiable within the statistics until 2016-17).

Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act 2016

Finally, the implementation of the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act 2016 on 3rd July 2017 has resulted in new crimes of disclosing or threatening to disclose an intimate image being recorded. Whilst some of these cases may have been recorded as a different crime or offence had they occurred prior to the Act, its likely the clear majority of them would not have been classified as a sexual crime. It is also the case that the enactment of this legislation extended the criminal law to criminalise certain conduct that previously may not have been illegal.

Historical (non-recent) reporting

Table A1 reports 1,201 crimes of Lewd and Libidinous practices in 2017-18. These crimes should all relate to offences which occurred prior to the implementation of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 on 1 December 2010, as the act replaced Lewd and Libidinous practices with specific sexual assault crimes. As a result, we know that these are historical (non-recent) offences. Similarly, there were 346 crimes of Sexual assault committed prior to 1 December 2010. There will be other Sexual crimes recorded in 2017-18 which occurred in previous years but after the introduction of the Act; however, it is not possible to identify these separately to give a full picture of historical (non-recent) reporting.

Furthermore, Police Scotland have cited that increased reporting, including that of historical (non-recent) crimes, may in part be responsible for the increase in recorded sexual crime. The successful outcome of cases featuring historical (non-recent) offending may have highligted to survivors that cases will be listened to by the police, regardless of how long ago they occurred. Media coverage may also have led to the identification of further survivors who previously may not have reported crimes to the police.

Police Scotland have also highlighted that some investigations can be large-scale involving numerous victims/offenders which span a number of years and can lead to the identification of additional victims/offenders. Online child sexual abuse, which includes grooming/exploitation, has also seen an increase in reporting, not only from victims but concerned members of the public.

Data Validation

HMICS Crime Audit 2016

As previously mentioned, HMICS tested the accuracy of crime recording through auditing a sample of records recorded between 1st January and 31st March 2016. Further information on this audit, including definitions of terminology and tests used can be found in Annex 2.

Of the 914 crimes sampled that resulted from sexual incidents, 91.4% were counted and classified correctly. The audit found that 44 crimes had been under-counted, eight had been over-counted, and 27 were wrongly classified.

Whist the audit confirmed that the vast majority of these crimes are counted and classified correctly, it also noted that ‘there remains scope for improvement in the recording of sexual crime’.

Counting errors tended to arise due to the complexity of sexual crime. The audit found that officers and staff making crime recording decisions can sometimes overlook an additional locus which merits an additional crime, or can count too many crimes where a person has been a victim of the same crime repeatedly but specific dates for each instance of the crime are not known. Some classification errors were also attributed to the complexity of sexual crime, with several statutory provisions sometimes being relevant to one set of circumstances and a decision must be made as to which fits best. Some classification errors also arose because there was a failure to take account of any sexual element of a case, for example the audit found several instances of threatening or abusive behaviour being recorded where the behaviour featured a sexual element and would have been more appropriately classified as a sexual crime. Such classification errors can result in a misrepresentation of the total volume of sexual crime in Scotland.

Of the 1,117 sexual incidents[7] audited, 90.0% were closed correctly. Incorrect closure in the majority of incidents was due to insufficient information from which to make a judgement as to whether or not a crime had actually occurred. Many of these incidents have been referred to a specialist investigation unit, and while a crime record may be created eventually after what is often a complex and lengthy investigation, it was found that incidents were not updated in the meantime. As a result, HMICS have recommended that ‘Police Scotland should embed a ‘record-to-investigate’ approach to all crime recording in support of a victim-centred service’.

Data Comparisons

This segment includes information that should be considered to widen contextual understanding of the data provided on Group 2 - Sexual crimes. Detail is provided on limited comparisons with recorded crime in England & Wales and Northern Ireland. Further detail on the type of information available from the SCJS on sexual crime is also included.

Comparisons with England & Wales and Northern Ireland

While recorded crime in Scotland is not directly comparable with England & Wales or Northern Ireland due to differences in legislation and counting rules, there is an upward trend for sexual crimes across the UK. Between 2016-17 and 2017-18, sexual crimes in England & Wales increased by 24% compared with 13% in Scotland and 9% in Northern Ireland. In the five years from 2012-13 to 2017-18, sexual crimes in England & Wales increased by 181% compared with 65% in Scotland and 78% in Northern Ireland.

England & Wales detail in their report that the increase in recent years is thought to reflect a greater willingness of victims to come forward to report such crimes, and that it may also reflect changes in recording practice rather than actual victimisation. Northern Ireland suggest in their report that it may in part be due to improved recording of these offences as a result of clarification from the Home Office in relation to the issue of consent.

Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS)

Detailed information on the victims of sexual crime is not collected in the main SCJS survey. Information on sensitive topics is collected through a number of additional self-completion sections. Some of these sections include information on sexual crime; for example, the self-completion elements of the 2015-16 SCJS included questions on Sexual victimisation & stalking and Partner abuse.

Group 3 – Crimes of Dishonesty

Group 3 – Crimes of Dishonesty

Number of Crimes of dishonesty recorded in 2017-18:

Crimes of dishonesty account for almost half (47%) of all crime recorded in Scotland in 2017-18. Between 2016-17 and 2017-18, the number of Crimes of dishonesty recorded by the police in Scotland increased by 1%, from 113,205 to 114,474.

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 73% up to 2017-18. These crimes are now at their second lowest level since 1971, the first year for which comparable crime groups are available.

Chart 10: Crimes of dishonesty recorded by the police, 19711 to 1994 then 1995‑96 to 2017-18 (Table 10)

Chart 10: Crimes of dishonesty recorded by the police, 19711 to 1994 then 1995‑96 to 2017-18 (Table 10)

1. Crimes recorded for the present crime groups are not available prior to 1971.

The national rate of recorded Crimes of dishonesty increased from 209 per 10,000 population in 2016-17 to 211 crimes per 10,000 population in 2017-18. Rates varied significantly by local authority area, with the highest rate in the City of Edinburgh (398 per 10,000 population) and the lowest in the Shetland Islands (34 per 10,000 population) (Table 14).

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 are at a similar level to 2008-09, 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 2008-09 to 2017-18 (Table 6).

Chart 11: Crimes of dishonesty (showing four largest categories) in Scotland, 2008-09 to 2017-18

Chart 11: Crimes of dishonesty (showing four largest categories) in Scotland, 2008-09 to 2017-18

Other theft:

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 39% of these crimes. Over the ten year period from 2008-09 to 2017-18, Other theft has seen a decrease of 31%, including a 2% decrease from 45,173 in 2016-17 to 44,437 in 2017-18.

All local authorities recorded a decrease in this category over the ten year period.

Shoplifting:

Shoplifting accounted for a quarter (27%) of Crimes of dishonesty. Shoplifting increased by 9% from 28,650 in 2016-17 to 31,321 in 2017-18. 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 just under two thirds (21) showing a decrease in Shoplifting. Between 2016-17 and 2017-18 just under two thirds (22) of Scotland’s local authorities recorded an increase in the number of shopliftings.

Housebreaking:

Housebreaking accounted for 13% of Crimes of dishonesty. Over the ten year period from 2008-09 to 2017-18 this crime has decreased by 41%, including a 7% decrease from 16,299 in 2016-17 to 15,130 in 2017-18. Table A2 shows that this has been driven by a 12% decrease in housebreaking of domestic dwellings.

All but two local authorities recorded a decrease in this category over the ten year period. Between 2016-17 and 2017-18, over half (19) of local authorities showed a decrease.

Fraud:

Crimes of Fraud account for 8% of Crimes of dishonesty. Despite small fluctuations over the ten year period from 2008-09 to 2017-18, this category has seen an increase of 4%. Numbers increased by 10% between 2016-17 and 2017-18.

Changes by local authority varied widely over the ten year period, with 18 showing a decrease in Fraud. Between 2016-17 and 2017-18, over half (19) 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 2008-09 to 2017-18 this crime has seen a large decrease of 73%, including a 4% decrease from 3,888 in 2016-17 to 3,734 in 2017-18.

All but one local authority area recorded a decrease (with one remaining the same) in this category over the ten year period. Between 2016-17 and 2017-18, less than half (14) of all local authorities showed a decrease.

Theft of a motor vehicle:

Theft of a motor vehicle accounted for 4% of Crimes of dishonesty. Over the ten year period from 2008-09 to 2017-18 this crime has seen a large decrease of 57%, including a 4% decrease from 5,216 in 2016-17 to 5,024 in 2017-18.

All but one local authority recorded a decrease in this category over the ten year period. Between 2016-17 and 2017-18, half (16) of all local authorities decreased.

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 2008-09 to 2017-18 this crime has seen a decrease of 23%, including a 1% decrease from 4,228 in 2016-17 to 4,173 in 2017-18.

All but seven local authorities recorded a decrease in this category over the ten year period. Just over a third of local authorities showed a decrease between 2016-17 and 2017-18.

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 2008-09 to 2017-18, this crime has seen a large decrease of 71%, however there was a 4% increase from 1,940 in 2016-17 to 2,027 in 2017-18.

All but one local authority area recorded a decrease in this category over the ten year period. Between 2016-17 and 2017-18, just under half (14) of local authorities showed a decrease.

Data Validation

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[8] 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.

Data Comparisons

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 712,000 crimes measured by the SCJS in 2016-17, 481,000 (68%) were property crimes. It is estimated that around 12% of adults in Scotland were a victim of property crime in 2016-17.

In 2016-17, vandalism accounted for 34% of property crime, followed by other household theft (including bicycle theft, 27%), personal theft (excluding robbery, 26%), all motor vehicle theft related incidents (8%) and housebreaking (5%).

Further detail on the comparable crime set is available in Section 5.3. As outlined there and in the Annex of the 2016-17 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 32% between 2008-09 and 2016-17, while for the same period the SCJS estimate showed no change (the apparent change of 20% was not statistically significant).

Group 4 – Fire-raising, Vandalism etc.

Group 4 – Fire-raising, Vandalism etc.

Number of crimes of Fire-raising, vandalism etc. recorded in 2017-18:

Fire-raising, vandalism etc. accounted for 21% of all crime recorded in Scotland in 2017-18. Between 2016-17 and 2017-18, the number of crimes of Fire-raising, vandalism etc. recorded by the police in Scotland decreased by 2%, from 52,514 to 51,322. The recording of these crimes is at the lowest level seen since 1978.

Chart 12 shows the number of crimes of Fire-raising, vandalism etc. from 1971 onwards. Levels of Fire-raising, vandalism etc. increased for a long period, but there was a sharp downward trend since they peaked in 2006-07, however this appears to have levelled off more recently. Since 2008-09 the number of these crimes has fallen by 53%.

Chart 12: Crimes of Fire-raising, vandalism etc. recorded by the police, 19711 to 1994 then 1995‑96 to 2017-18(Table 10)

Chart 12: Crimes of Fire-raising, vandalism etc. recorded by the police, 19711 to 1994 then 1995‑96 to 2017-18(Table 10)

1. Crimes recorded for the present crime groups are not available prior to 1971.

The national rate of recorded crimes of Fire-raising, vandalism etc. decreased from 97 per 10,000 population in 2016-17 to 95 crimes per 10,000 population in 2017-18. Rates varied by local authority area, with the highest in Glasgow City (132 per 10,000 population), and the lowest in Na h-Eileanan Siar (26 per 10,000 population) (Table 14).

Due to the difference in scale of recorded crimes of Vandalism etc. and Fire-raising, Charts 13 and 14 show these two categories separately to highlight better the similar downward trends they have followed over the last ten years.

Chart 13: Fire-raising in Scotland, 2008-09 to 2017-18

Chart 13: Fire-raising in Scotland, 2008-09 to 2017-18

Chart 14: Vandalism etc. in Scotland, 2008-09 to 2017-18

Chart 14: Vandalism etc. in Scotland, 2008-09 to 2017-18

Vandalism etc.:

Vandalism etc. accounted for 95% of crimes of Fire-raising, vandalism etc. These crimes have decreased by 2% from 49,721 in 2016-17 to 48,690 in 2017-18. The longer term trend has also been downwards, with the number of crimes recorded decreasing by 54% from 2008-09 to 2017-18.

All local authority areas recorded a decrease in this category over the ten year period. Between 2016-17 and 2017-18, over a quarter (10) of local authorities showed an increase.

The Vandalism etc. category includes crimes recorded under the Computer Misuse Act 1990. There were 22 such crimes recorded in 2017-18.

Fire-raising:

Fire-raising accounted for 5% of crimes of Fire-raising, vandalism etc. These crimes have decreased by 6% from 2,793 in 2016-17 to 2,632 in 2017-18, this decrease follows two consecutive year-on-year increases and continues the downward trend seen since 2008-09. Fire-raising has decreased by 43% over the ten year period from 2008-09 to 2017-18.

All but one local authority area recorded a decrease in this category over the ten year period. Between 2016-17 and 2017-18, 22 out of 32 local authorities showed a decrease.

Data Validation

HMICS Crime Audit 2016

As previously outlined, HMICS tested the accuracy of crime recording through auditing a sample of records recorded between 1st January and 31st March 2016. Further information on this audit, including definitions of terminology and tests used can be found in Annex 2.

Of the 1,938 crimes sampled that resulted from damage-related incidents, 96.0% were counted and classified correctly. The audit found 44 crimes were under-counted and 11 were over-counted. The audit noted that the vast majority of under-counted crimes were vandalisms, for example where a person reported a vandalism to the police and highlighted that the same incident had occurred recently, or had also happened to their neighbour. In this circumstance an additional crime should have been recorded. Most over-counted crimes were also vandalisms, and these occurred when the vandalism could have been subsumed[9] into another crime. The audit also found 22 classification errors, the majority relating to crimes being classified as vandalisms when they were a different crime such as culpable and reckless conduct, theft or an attempted housebreaking.

Of the 2,032 damage-related incidents[10] audited, 94.9% were closed correctly. Errors in this area were often due to a lack of information to dispel an allegation of criminality, or a lack of follow up with a minor incident not being attended or followed up by telephone.There were also several errors involving non-cooperative complainers, as well as difficulties in re-contacting complainers, which led to incidents being incorrectly closed.

Data Comparisons

This segment includes information that should be considered to widen contextual understanding of the data provided on Group 4 – Fire-raising, vandalism etc. Detail is provided on the number of fires which are attended to by the Scottish Fire and Rescue service, as well as analysis from the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS) to provide a complementary outlook on vandalism in Scotland.

Fire and Rescue Statistics Scotland

As highlighted above, there has been a 43% reduction in the number of fire-raising crimes recorded by the police between 2008-09 and 2017-18, from 4,651 to 2,632. Another source of statistics on fire in Scotland is an annual publication covering the number of fires attended by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS). The latest figures (for 2016-17) are available at: http://www.firescotland.gov.uk/about-us/fire-and-rescue-statistics.aspx.

It is not possible to make direct comparisons between the two sources, as many fires are caused accidentally rather than as a result of a crime, and the police are not called to all deliberate fires. Furthermore, not all police recorded crimes of fire-raising may result in the attendance of the SFRS (for example the fire may have ended before the police attended). However as these sources both relate to how Scotland’s emergency services respond to fire, it would be anticipated that both should show similar trends over time.

A total of 27,240 fires were attended by the SFRS in 2016-17, of which over 15,800 were started deliberately. This represents a 40% reduction in the total number of fires attended since 2008-09 and a 31% reduction in the number of deliberate fires since 2009-10 (the first year for which comparable data are available). This comparison confirms that the significant reduction in police recorded crimes of fire-raising over the past 10 years has also been broadly reflected in statistics for the SFRS

Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS)

In addition to the information on police recorded crime, the SCJS provides a complementary outlook through asking respondents about their experiences of vandalism in Scotland.

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:

As stated earlier, of the 712,000 crimes measured by the SCJS in 2016-17, 481,000 (68%) were property crimes and it is estimated that around 12% of adults in Scotland were a victim of property crime in 2016-17.

In 2016-17, vandalism accounted for 34% of property crime, followed by other household theft (including bicycle theft, 27%), personal theft (excluding robbery, 26%), all motor vehicle theft related incidents (8%) and housebreaking (5%).

Further detail on the comparable crime group is available in Section 5.3 and in the Annex of the 2016-17 SCJS. Vandalism is included in recorded crime figures within Group 4 (Fire-raising, vandalism etc).

As outlined in Section 5.3, recorded vandalism in the comparable category decreased by 53% between 2008-09 and 2016-17, while for the same period the SCJS estimates of vandalism also decreased by 53% (a statistically significant change in the SCJS results).

Group 5 – Other Crimes

Group 5 – Other Crimes

Number of Other crimes recorded in 2017-18:

Other crimes account for almost one quarter (24%) of all crimes recorded in Scotland in 2017-18. The total number of Other crimes recorded by the police in Scotland in 2017-18 was 58,970, remaining at similar levels to 2016-17 - when the additional crimes of handling an offensive weapon are excluded. If the additional crimes of handling an offensive weapon are included, Other crimes increased by 7%, from 54,946 to 58,970. This is not a reliable measure given those crimes of handling an offensive weapon were not recorded prior to 2017-18.

Chart 15 below shows the number of Other crimes from 1971 onwards. Other crimes increased for a long period, peaking in 2006-07. Since then they have generally reduced, decreasing by 31% up to 2017-18. These crimes are now at the second lowest level since 1997-98.

Chart 15: Other crimes recorded by the police, 19711 to 1994 then 1995‑96 to 2017-18 (Table 10)

Chart 15: Other crimes recorded by the police, 19711 to 1994 then 1995‑96 to 2017-18 (Table 10)

1. Crimes recorded for the present crime groups are not available prior to 1971.

The national rate of recorded Other crimes was 109 crimes per 10,000 population in 2017-18. This varied by local authority area, with the highest rate in Glasgow City (186 per 10,000 population), and the lowest in the Orkney Islands (37 per 10,000 population) (Table 14).

Chart 16 shows the four categories within Other crimes over the last ten years, and gives an indication of the trend and scale of each category. Drugs crimes have consistently been the biggest contributor to Other crimes. In 2017-18, 55% of Other crimes were drug crimes. A further 32% were Crimes against public justice and 13% were crimes of Handling Offensive weapons.

Chart 16: Other crimes in Scotland, 2008-09 to 2017-18

Chart 16: Other crimes in Scotland, 2008-09 to 2017-18

*As of 2017-18 there has been a procedural change to the counting of crimes of handling an offensive weapon. The additional 4,163 crimes shown in the chart do not represent a real increase in recorded crimes of handling an offensive weapon.

Drugs:

Drug crimes account for 55% of Other crimes. Over the ten year period from 2008-09 to 2017-18 this crime has decreased by 24%, including a 1% decrease from 32,641 in 2016-17 to 32,399 in 2017-18.

Three quarters (24) of local authorities recorded a decrease in this category over the ten year period. Between 2016-17 and 2017-18, around three fifths (19) of local authorities showed an increase.

Crimes against public justice:

Crimes against public justice account for 32% of Other Crimes and include Bail offences, Resisting arrest and Wasting police time. Over the ten year period from 2008-09 to 2017-18 this crime has decreased by 37%, including a 1% decrease from 18,795 in 2016-17 to 18,679 in 2017-18.

Over the ten year period all local authorities recorded a decrease in this category. Between 2016-17 and 2017-18, over a half (17) of local authorities showed an increase.

Handling offensive weapons:

Not used in other crimes or offences

From 2017-18 onwards, crimes of handling an offensive weapon in Scotland can be measured in two different ways. One way is to use the pre-existing statistics, where the offensive weapon hasn’t been used to commit another crime or offence against a person in a public place. These crimes account for 6% of Other crimes in 2017-18. Of these, 72 crimes occurred within a prison and 128 occurred in a school[11].

Over the ten year period from 2008-09 to 2017-18 this crime has decreased by 60%. However, there was a 9% increase from 3,271 in 2016-17 to 3,570 in 2017-18, the second year-on-year increase following a prolonged decrease in these crimes.

Over the ten year period, all local authorities recorded a decrease in this category. Between 2016-17 and 2017-18, two thirds (21) of local authorities showed an increase.

Used in other crimes or offences

In addition to the above measure, for the first time, figures are also available for a new measure where the offensive weapon was used to commit another crime or offence against a person in a public place. In 2017-18, there were 4,163 crimes recorded, accounting for 7% of Other crimes in 2017-18. Of these, 23 crimes occurred within a prison and 32 occurred within a school.

In June a report was published that presented more detailed information on the handling of offensive weapons within public places in Scotland. This included findings on the characteristics of these cases, based on a random sample of 1,500 crimes recorded by the police for the first six months (April to September) of 2013 and 2017.

The overwhelming majority of police recorded crimes for handling an offensive weapon in a public place were committed by males. When the weapon was not used in other criminal activity the median age of perpetrators was 29 and the majority of crimes involved a knife or other articles with a blade or point.

When the weapon was used in other criminal activity in a public place the majority of cases involved a male perpetrator and a male victim, who were known to each other and who were both more likely than average to live in urban areas and areas of higher deprivation. In these cases just over half of weapons were items other than knives or other articles with a blade or point.

The most common criminal act committed with a weapon in a public place was threatening or abusive behaviour followed by common assault. In the majority of cases the crime or offence resulted in no physical injury to the victim and this proportion was higher when the victim was female or if the victim did not know the perpetrator. More information can be found by accessing the ‘Recorded Crime in Scotland: Handling Offensive Weapons’ publication:

http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2018/06/2507

Other:

The Other category within Other crimes includes Treason, Conspiracy, Explosive offences, Wrecking, piracy and hijacking, and Crimes against public order.

This category accounted for less than 0.5% of Other crimes in 2017-18. Over the last 10 years this type of crime increased by 54% between 2008-09 and 2012-13, and has fallen since then. In 2017-18, the number of crimes recorded was 40% lower than in 2008-09. There was a 33% decrease from 239 in 2016-17 to 159 in 2017-18.

Data Considerations

As outlined above. Changes in recorded crime in 2017-18 should be treated with some caution due to the addition of newly recorded crimes of handling an offensive weapon. Further information on this procedural change and its impact on the statistics are available in Section 2.10.

Data Validation

Scottish Government statisticians reviewed a sample of 400 drug possession crime records from 2016-17 - as part of the production process for the annual statistics release on Drug Seizures and Offender Characteristics. As part of the review process, the quality of recording for crimes of drug possession was considered and found to be very good, with nearly 100% of the sampled records classified correctly.

Following the decision by the Scottish Crime Recording Board to change the approach to recording crimes of handling offensive weapons and the impact this was likely to have on the Recorded Crime National Statistics, Scottish Government statisticians undertook a review of crime records to test whether this change had been implemented effectively. As part of a study into the characteristics of weapons crime in Scotland, a random sample of 1,000 crimes of handling an offensive weapon were selected from April to September 2017 (i.e. the first six months following the change to recording practice). The sample was split into 500 crimes of handling an offensive weapon which wasn’t used to commit a further crime or offence against a person (i.e. the exisiting measure and shortened to ‘weapon not used’) and 500 crimes of using an offensive weapon to commit a further crime or offence against a person (i.e. the additional cases recorded since 1st April 2017 and shortened to ‘weapon used’). For each crime selected, the record was reviewed to determine if the description of the incident was consistent with the crime assigned to it.

Based on this random sample, 91% of the 1,000 crimes reviewed were correctly classified. For those newly recorded crimes of using an offensive weapon to commit a further crime or offence against a person, the percentage of cases correctly classified was 93%. This suggests that the implementation of new codes to separately identify these cases within the statistics has gone well. For crimes of handling but not using an offensive weapon (i.e. the exisiting measure), the percentage of correctly classified cases was 89%. Going forward statisticians will continue to work with Police Scotland and the Scottish Crime Recording Board to promote further improvement in recording practice for crimes of handling offensive weapons. More information can be found by accessing the ‘Recorded Crime in Scotland: Handling Offensive Weapons’ publication:

https://www.gov.scot/Publications/2018/06/2507

Data Comparisons

Drugs

A separate ‘Drug Seizures and Offender Characteristics’ bulletin is produced by the Scottish Government. It contains more detailed information on the quantities of drugs seized and the characteristics of those who commit crimes of drug possession. Based on a review of 1,200 drug possession crime records over the years of 2014-15 to 2016-17,it was found that the vast majority of drug possession offenders were male and the average age of an offender was 29. Around three fifths of drug possessions involved the seizure of cannabis. More information can be found by accessing the ‘Drug Seizures and Offender Characteristics’ bulletin:

http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Crime-Justice/DrugSeizures

Total Recorded Offences

Total number of offences recorded in 2017-18:

Due to anomalies in the data for Motor vehicle offences, statistics for total recorded offences by the police are only comparable from 2013-14 onwards. Further detail on these anomalies can be found in the ‘Data Considerations’ sections below and in the following sections under each offence group, as well as in Annex 2.

The total number of offences recorded by the police in Scotland decreased by 9% from 288,691 in 2016-17 to 264,027 in 2017-18 (Table 7). This amounts to an overall decrease of 47% since 2013-14.

Miscellaneous offences and Motor vehicle offences account for fairly equal proportions of total offences, compared to 2013-14 when Motor vehicle offences accounted for almost 60% of the total.

Local Authority analysis:

28 out of the 32 local authority areas showed a decrease in recorded offences between 2016-17 and 2017-18. Further explanation of these trends is set out in the following sections under each offence group.

Data Considerations

It should be noted that the number of offences recorded by the police generally tends to be affected more by police activity and operational decisions than the numbers of crimes.

National Statistics on total recorded offences are based on data which Police Scotland extract from their IT system (called the Scottish Operational and Management Information System (ScOMIS)) and submit to the Scottish Government. Prior to 2013-14 and the establishment of Police Scotland, the Scottish Government collected recorded offences data from the eight legacy forces, who in turn extracted the data from their own systems.

Coinciding with this change of collection, the Scottish Government carried out an extensive data quality exercise to assess the comparability of data extracted from ScOMIS with the data published in previous bulletins. This analysis identified that a number of offence codes are non-comparable over time. For Group 6, Miscellaneous Offences, all data are fully comparable from 2008-09 onwards. For Group 7, Motor Vehicle Offences and hence the overall figures on Offences (based on Groups 6 and 7), data are only comparable from 2013-14 onwards.

The Scottish Government produced a Technical Report in 2014 which detailed the quality assurance work it carried out in reaching this conclusion: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Crime-Justice/PubRecordedCrime/TechnicalReport.

Group 6 – Miscellaneous Offences

Group 6 – Miscellaneous Offences

Number of Miscellaneous offences recorded in 2017-18:

Miscellaneous offences account for just over half (52%) of all offences recorded in Scotland in 2017-18. Between 2016-17 and 2017-18, the number of Miscellaneous offences recorded by the police in Scotland decreased by 9%, from 150,523 to 137,012.

Due to a number of anomalies in the data for Miscellaneous offences, this group is only comparable from 2008-09 onwards. Further information on the comparability of Group 6 is available in the ‘Data Considerations’ section below, and in Annex 2.

The national rate of recorded Miscellaneous offences decreased from 279 per 10,000 population in 2016-17 to 253 offences per 10,000 population in 2017-18. This varied by local authority area, with the highest rate in Glasgow City (429 per 10,000 population) and the lowest rate in Orkney Islands (111 per 10,000 population) (Table 14).

Chart 17 shows the five categories within Miscellaneous offences over the last ten years. This chart gives an indication of the trend and scale of each category. Common assault and Breach of the peace etc. have consistently been the biggest contributors to Miscellaneous offences.

Chart 17: Miscellaneous offences in Scotland, 2008-09 to 2017-18

Chart 17: Miscellaneous offences in Scotland, 2008-09 to 2017-18

Common assault:

Common assault is the largest category in Miscellaneous offences, accounting for more than two-fifths (43%) in 2017-18. Over the ten year period from 2008-09 to 2017-18, this category has fallen by around one fifth (21%), however there was a 1% increase from 57,861 in 2016-17 to 58,335 in 2017-18.

All but three local authorities recorded a decrease in this category over the ten year period. Between 2016-17 and 2017-18, just over half (17) of local authorities showed a decrease. For the distinction between Common assault and Serious assault please see Paragraph 7.13 within Annex 1.

The Recorded Crime in Scotland 2015-16 bulletin presented the results of an analysis of police recorded common assault conducted by Scottish Government statisticians. Based on a review of 500 common assaults recorded by the police in 2014-15, it suggested that the gender of complainers was equally split between males and females (49% in each case). Perpetrators were more likely to be male or all male groups (74% of cases). It was also found that around half of common assault cases involve no or very little injury to the complainer. The remaining cases (again around half) involve some degree of injury to the complainer. More information can be found by accessing the ‘Recorded Crime in Scotland, 2015-16’ bulletin:

http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Crime-Justice/PubRecordedCrime

Breach of the peace etc.:

Breach of the peace etc. includes Breach of the peace, Threatening or abusive behaviour, Stalking, Offensive behaviour at football and Threatening communications. A further breakdown of Breach of the peace etc. into its component parts is available in Table A6.

Breach of the peace etc. is the second largest category in Miscellaneous offences, accounting for more than a third (39%) in 2017-18. Over the ten year period from 2008-09 to 2017-18, this category has fallen by over two-fifths (43%), including a 9% decrease from 58,235 in 2016-17 to 53,187 in 2017-18.

It should be noted that the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012, under which offences of Offensive behaviour at football and Threatening communications are included, was repealed by the Scottish Parliament on 19 April 2018. Whilst the number of Breach of the peace etc. offences fell from 58,235 in 2016-17 to 53,187 in 2017-18 - the driver of the overall 9% decrease was fewer offences of both Threatening or abusive behaviour (down 2,786) and Breach of the peace (down 2,147) rather than any impact of the repeal.

All local authorities recorded a decrease in this category over the ten year period. Between 2016-17 and 2017-18, The majority (27) of local authorities showed a decrease.

Drunkenness and other disorderly conduct:

Drunkenness and other disorderly conduct includes offences such as Drunk and Incapable, Disorderly on licensed premises and Consumption of alcohol in designated places, byelaws prohibited. For further information on the classification of crimes and offences, please see Chapter 8.

Drunkenness and other disorderly conduct accounted for 6% of Miscellaneous offences in 2017-18. Despite some fluctuation, levels of this offence fell 72% between 2008-09 and 2017-18. This includes a 45% decrease from 15,796 in 2016-17 to 8,635 in 2017-18.

All local authorities recorded a decrease in this category between 2008-09 and 2017-18. Between 2016-17 and 2017-18 all but five (27) local authorities showed a decrease.

Urinating etc.:

Urinating etc. accounted for 2% of Miscellaneous offences in 2017-18. This category generally increased for several years from 2007-08, peaking in 2012-13. Urinating etc. decreased by 32% from 4,505 in 2016-17 to 3,044 in 2017-18, the fifth consecutive decrease in these offences.

All but two local authorities recorded a decrease in this category over the ten year period. Between 2016-17 and 2017-18 all but two (30) local authorities showed a decrease.

Other miscellaneous offences

The Other miscellaneous offences category includes a wide range of offences, including Racially aggravated harassment, Racially aggravated conduct, False/hoax calls, Offences invoving children and Offences involving animals/plants. For further information on the classification of crimes and offences, please see Chapter 8.

Other miscellaneous offences account for 10% of Miscellaneous offences in 2017-18. These offences decreased by 2% from 14,126 in 2016-17 to 13,811 in 2017-18.

All but five (27) local authorities recorded a decrease between 2008-09 and 2017-18. Between 2016-17 and 2017-18, 12 of the 32 local authorities showed a decrease.

The Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2015 came into force on the 1 January 2017 which makes provision for the licensing and regulation of air weapons. In 2017-18, i.e. the first full year for which statistics are available there were 396 air weapons licensing offences recorded by the police.

It should be noted that the Other miscellaneous offences category is not considered comparable for years prior to 2008-09. Further information on quality issues is available in the ‘Data Considerations’ section below, and in Annex 2.

Data Considerations

As outlined in the overall section on police recorded offences – an extensive data quality exercise was carried out to assess the comparability of data extracted from the Scottish Operational and Management Information System (ScOMIS) with data collected from legacy police forces and published in previous bulletins. This analysis identified that all data for Group 6, Miscellaneous Offences, are fully comparable from 2008-09 onwards. However, two offences are non-comparable prior to 2008-09: Disorderly on licensed premises (within the Drunkenness and other disorderly conduct category) and Control of Pollution (within the Other miscellaneous offences category). Therefore, comparisons for the Drunkenness and other disorderly conduct and Other miscellaneous offences categories in Group 6 should also only be made for 2008-09 onwards. The comparability of the remaining three categories in Group 6: Common assault; Breach of the peace etc. and Urinating etc. are not affected.

The Scottish Government produced a Technical Report in 2014 which detailed the quality assurance work it carried out in reaching this conclusion: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Crime-Justice/PubRecordedCrime/TechnicalReport.

Data Validation

Scottish Government statisticians reviewed a random sample of 500 common assault records from 2014-15 to develop a better understanding of the nature of this type of offence. The quality of recording decisions for common assault by Police Scotland is very good, with 98% of common assaults classified correctly. Those records incorrectly classified as common assault were either a breach of the peace, a serious assault or insufficient detail was provided to dispel the notion a serious assault had occurred. The full findings and analysis from this sample can be found in the 2015-16 ‘Recorded Crime in Scotland’ publication.

HMICS Crime Audit 2016

It should be noted that in the HMICS audit report, violent crime includes Common assault. Please refer to the Group 1 - Non-sexual crimes of violence section. Further information on this audit, including definitions of terminology and tests used, can be found in Annex 2.

The previous HMICS Crime Audit, carried out in 2014, included a review of Hate Crime. Of the 504 hate crimes examined, 94% were counted and classified correctly. Five crimes were under-counted and six crimes were over-counted. There were no recurring themes in relation to counting errors for hate crime. However, the majority of classification errors related to the same technical issue around the classification of crimes between s.50(a) (1B) of the Criminal Law Consolidation (Scotland) Act 1005 and s.38 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010.

The Test 1 compliance rate of 97% for hate crime was the best of the four crime categories audited in 2014. Test 1 failures tended to relate to a lack of information or update on the incident record to dispel criminality. In several incidents, the complainer became uncooperative but a crime should nonetheless have been recorded. In a few incidents, a crime had clearly taken place but no trace of a crime record could be found.

Data Comparisons

Racially aggravated harassment and conduct

The Other category in Miscellaneous offences contains offences of Racially aggravated harassment and Racially aggravated conduct, and Table A7 shows these offences for the last ten years. In 2017-18 there were 74 offences of Racially aggravated harassment and 1,847 offences of Racially aggravated conduct. While these include specific racially aggravated offences, they do not account for all criminal behaviour which may have had a racial motivation such as assault or vandalism.

Scottish Government statisticians have been working with Police Scotland to assess whether their data systems adequately capture hate-related incidents reported to the police. This work has now been completed and a report will be published later in 2018. The report will cover 2014-15 to 2017-18 and include information on hate-related incidents with a race, religion, sexual orientation, disability and transgender identity element. It will include information on victims, perpetrators, and associated crimes.

The Scottish Government previously published statistics on Racist Incidents Recorded by the Police in Scotland. The last publication covered 2013-14 and was published in November 2015, and is available via the following link: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Crime-Justice/PubRacistIncidents.

Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS)

In addition to information on police recorded crime, the SCJS provides a complementary outlook on crimes of violence through asking respondents about their experiences.

As previously noted, violent crime as defined by the SCJS is not directly comparable with non-sexual crimes of violence recorded by the Police. Common assaults, which make up the majority of SCJS violent crime, are included in the Miscellaneous offences police recorded crime group, and the Non-sexual crimes of violence crime group includes homicide.

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:

As stated under the Non-sexual crimes of violence section, of the 712,000 crimes measured by the SCJS in 2016-17, 231,000 (32%) were violent crimes and it is estimated that 2.9% of adults in Scotland were a victim of violent crime in 2016-17.

In 2016-17, minor assaults made up the vast majority of SCJS violent crime (85%), followed by serious assault (7%), attempted assault (4%) and robbery (3%).

Further detail on the comparable crime set is available in Section 5.3. As outlined there and in the Annex of the 2016-17 SCJS, violent crime in the SCJS includes assault and robbery, crimes which are included in Group 1 (Non-sexual crimes of violence) and Group 6 (Miscellaneous offences) in police recorded crime figures.

As outlined in Section 5.3, recorded violent crime figures in the comparable category decreased by 24% between 2008-09 and 2016-17, while for the same period the SCJS estimates of violent crime decreased by 27% (a statistically significant change in the SCJS results).

Group 7 – Motor Vehicle Offences

Group 7 – Motor Vehicle Offences

Number of Motor vehicle offences recorded in 2017-18:

Motor vehicle offences account for nearly half (48%) of all offences recorded in Scotland in 2017-18. Between 2016-17 and 2017-18, the number of Motor vehicle offences recorded by the police decreased by 8% from 138,168 to 127,015. This amounts to an overall decrease of 57% since 2013-14.

Due to a number of anomalies in the data as a result of inconsistencies with legacy data reporting, there is a break in the time series at 2013-14. Further information on the comparability issues can be found in the ‘Data Considerations’ section below, and detailed information on the comparability of Group 7 are available in Annex 2.

The national rate of recorded Motor vehicle offences decreased from 256 per 10,000 population in 2016-17 to 234 per 10,000 population in 2017-18. This varied by local authority area, with the highest rate in Dumfries & Galloway (541 per 10,000 population), and the lowest in East Renfrewshire (89 per 10,000 population) (Table 14).

Additional information provided by Police Scotland relating to Motor vehicle offences is available in the ‘Data Considerations’ section below.

Unlawful use of vehicle:

The Unlawful use of vehicle category includes offences such as Driving while disqualified, Driving without a licence, Driving without insurance, and Driving without a test certificate. Further detail can be found in Chapter 8.

Unlawful use of vehicle is the largest category in this group, accounting for over a third (35%) of Motor vehicle offences. This category decreased by 5% from 45,978 in 2016-17 to 43,871 in 2017-18. Just under three quarters (23) of local authority areas recorded a decrease between 2016-17 and 2017-18.

It should be noted that the Unlawful use of vehicle category is not considered comparable for years prior to 2013-14. Further information on quality issues is available in Annex 2.

Speeding:

Speeding accounted for just under a quarter (23%) of Motor vehicle offences. This category decreased by 15% from 34,371 in 2016-17 to 29,223 in 2017-18. This amounts to an overall decrease of 65% since 2013-14. All but three (29) local authorities recorded a decrease between 2016-17 and 2017-18.

These figures do not include any offences recorded as a result of the Scottish Safety Camera Programme. These are excluded as no police resources were used in the recording of an offence by this programme and the National Statistics on Recorded Crime focuses solely on crimes and offences faced by the police and not other organisations.

It should be noted that the Speeding category is not considered comparable for years prior to 2013-14. Further information on quality issues is available in Annex 2.

Dangerous and careless driving:

Dangerous and careless driving accounted for 8% of Motor vehicle offences. This category decreased by 8% from 11,693 in 2016-17 to 10,722 in 2017-18. Numbers declined for a few years after 2008-09, but have fluctuated since 2010-11. Despite this, levels remain 7% lower than in 2008-09.

Over half (18) of local authority areas recorded a decreasein this category between 2008-09 and 2017-18. Two thirds (22) of the 32 local authorities showed a decreasebetween 2016-17 and 2017-18.

Vehicle defect offences:

Vehicle defect offences account for 6% of Motor vehicle offences. This category decreased by 16% from 8,385 in 2016-17 to 7,049 in 2017-18. This amounts to an overall decrease of 66% since 2013-14. Almost three fifths (19) of the 32 local authorities recorded a decrease between 2016-17 and 2017-18.

It should be noted that the Vehicle defect offences category is not considered comparable for years prior to 2013-14. Further information on quality issues is available in Annex 2.

Mobile phone offences:

Mobile phone offences account for 2% of Motor vehicle offences. This category decreased by 53% from 6,709 in 2016-17 to 3,173 in 2017-18. Levels of these offences increased each year from 2008-09, peaking in 2013-14, but have decreased each year since. There has been an overall decrease of 87% since 2008-09 and 91% since 2013-14. All but one (31) local authority areas recorded a decrease in this category between 2008-09 and 2017-18. All but one (31) local authority areas showed a decrease between 2016-17 and 2017-18.

It should be noted that the Mobile phone offences category is not considered comparable for years prior to 2008-09. Further information on quality issues is available in Annex 2.

Driving under the influence:

Driving under the influence accounted for 5% of Motor vehicle offences. There was a 1% decrease in this category from 5,917 in 2016-17 to 5,863 in 2017-18, continuing the downward trend seen since 2008-09. Driving under the influence has decreased by 40% as a whole over this period.

All local authorities recorded a decrease in this category between 2008-09 and 2017-18. More than half (17) of local authorities showed a decrease between 2016-17 and 2017-18.

Seat belt offences:

Seat belt offences account for 2% of Motor vehicle offences. This category has decreased by 30% from 4,502 in 2016-17 to 3,134 in 2017-18. Levels of these offences had previously been on a generally upward trend between 2008-09 and 2013-14, before decreasing by 92% between 2013-14 and 2017-18.

All 32 local authority areas recorded a decrease in this category between 2008-09 and 2017-18. All but five (27) local authority areas showed a decrease between 2016-17 and 2017-18.

It should be noted that the Seat belt offences category is not considered comparable for years prior to 2008-09. Further information on quality issues is available in Annex 2.

Other motor vehicle offences:

The Other motor vehicle offences category includes offences such as Accident offences and Parking offences. Further detail can be found in Chapter 8.

Other motor vehicle offences account for 19% of Motor vehicle offences. This category increased by 16% from 20,613 in 2016-17 to 23,980 in 2017-18. This amounts to an overall decrease of 43% since 2013-14. More than half (18) of local authority areas recorded an increase between 2016-17 and 2017-18.

It should be noted that the Other motor vehicle offences category is not considered comparable for years prior to 2013-14. Further information on quality issues is available in Annex 2.

Data Considerations

As outlined in the overall section on police recorded offences – an extensive data quality exercise was carried out to assess the comparability of data extracted from the Scottish Operational and Management Information System (ScOMIS) with data collected from legacy police forces and published in previous bulletins. This analysis identified that due to the standardisation of reporting practices following the establishment of Police Scotland, there are significant comparability issues for Group 7 Motor Vehicle Offences. There are no issues for two of the categories in Group 7: Dangerous and careless driving and Driving under the influence. Seat belt offences and Mobile phone offences are only comparable back to 2008-09. The other categories in Group 7, and hence the overall figures for Group 7, are only comparable back to 2013-14.

The Scottish Government produced a Technical Report in 2014 which detailed the quality assurance work it carried out in reaching this conclusion: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Crime-Justice/PubRecordedCrime/TechnicalReport.

In relation to the overall decrease in Motor vehicle offences, Police Scotland have cited their move towards engagement and education to prevent road offences in addition to enforcement, with raising awareness and high profile media campaigns designed to influence driver behaviour and public attitudes. Further, Police Scotland state that high-risk road traffic offender groups are identified and targeted as part of routine business, and Anti-Social Behaviour legislation is used proactively, through the issue of initial warnings to drivers/vehicles followed by seizure of the vehicle where relevant.


Contact

Jamie Macfarlane