Recorded crime in Scotland 2017-2018
This bulletin presents statistics on crimes and offences recorded and cleared up by the police in Scotland, disaggregated by crime/offence group and by local authority.
This document is part of a collection
4. Clear up rates
This chapter presents statistics on recorded crime Clear up rates in Scotland during 2017-18. Whereas the rest of this bulletin presents recorded crime statistics that have been produced as National Statistics (following the UKSA’s decision to re-designate this information as National Statistics in September 2016) – these clear up rate statistics remain published as Official Statistics. This is the same designation as was used to publish this information for the 2013-14 through to 2016-17 reporting years.
The UKSA will re-visit the statistical designation of this information once HMICS have carried out an audit of this data and the Scottish Crime Recording Board has considered any implications for the quality of these data. HMICS will continue to consider the possibility of an audit of clear up data as they develop their programme for 2019-20, with a view to providing the public and other stakeholders with assurance about the reliability of clear up rates. Statisticians will keep users informed of progress with this audit and further developments beyond this (through the Scotstat network).
The definition of "cleared up" is noted below. This definition came into force with effect from 1 April 1996.
A crime or offence is regarded as cleared up where there exists a sufficiency of evidence under Scots law, to justify consideration of criminal proceedings notwithstanding that a report is not submitted to the procurator fiscal because either:
(i) by standing agreement with the procurator fiscal, the police warn the accused due to the minor nature of the offence, or
(ii) reporting is inappropriate due to the non-age of the accused, death of the accused or other similar circumstances.
For some types of crime or offence the case is cleared up immediately because the offender is "caught in the act", e.g. motor vehicle offences. In Scots law, the confession of an accused person to a crime would not in general be sufficient to allow a prosecution to be taken, as corroborative evidence is required. Thus, a case cannot be regarded as "cleared up" on the basis of a confession alone. In some cases there is sufficient evidence but a prosecution cannot be brought, for example, because the accused has left the country. In such cases, the offender is said to have been traced and the crime is regarded as cleared up. The other terms in the definition describe the various actions that must be taken by the police against offenders.
Clear up rates are calculated as follows:
Clear up rates presented are rounded to one decimal place.
Crimes or offences recorded by the police as cleared up in one financial year, year y, may have been committed and therefore recorded in a previous year, i.e. year y-1. This means that the number of crimes or offences cleared up are being expressed as a percentage of a different set of crimes or offences. This means that clear up rates in excess of 100% can arise in a given year.
As the number of crimes cleared up in a year may include crimes recorded in a previous year, this is not a perfect measure of crimes cleared up, particularly since this method can result in clear up rates of over 100%. The best method would be to take the number of crimes recorded and the subset of those which have been cleared up by the police. However due to the aggregate way in which the data is currently obtained, it is not possible to do this at present. Going forward, we will investigate any improvement that could be made to the measurement of clear up rates, and will consult with users on any possible change.
Clear up rates for the Motor vehicle offences group are not included in the bulletin since many of these crimes are offences for which the offender is ‘caught in the act’.
A new system of recorded warnings – known as the Recorded Police Warning (RPW) scheme, was introduced by Police Scotland on the 11 January 2016. The scheme allows police officers to make greater use of their discretion when dealing with minor crimes and offences, and replaces the Formal Adult Warning system. Some crimes and offences in this 2017-18 bulletin (as with the previous bulletin) will have been dealt with by a RPW.
This new scheme should not impact on clear up rate statistics as a RPW can only be issued where there is sufficient evidence to report a matter to the Crown (and hence meet the criteria for a ‘cleared-up’ crime or offence). There is no evidence of any impact of RPWs on clear-up rate statistics. The Scottish Crime Recording Board (SCRB) will continue to monitor developments in this area to ensure this remains the case.
Total recorded crime
The clear up rate for total recorded crime in 2017-18 was 49.5%, the lowest since 2011-12. However this follows a generally upward trend since 1976, the first year for which comparable clear up rates are available, as shown by Chart 18 below (Table 1).
As discussed earlier there has been a procedural change made to the recording of crime in 2017-18, whereby some additional crimes of handling an offensive weapon in a public place are now included in the statistics. This change has had a small impact on the clear up rate for both total recorded crime and other crimes in 2017-18.
Between 2016-17 and 2017-18, the clear up rate fell by 0.9 percentage points from 50.0% to 49.1% - when the additional crimes of handling an offensive weapon, which were only recorded from 2017-18 onwards, are excluded.
If the additional crimes of handling an offensive weapon are included, the clear up rate fell by 0.5 percentage points from 50.0% to 49.5%. This is not a reliable measure of change between these two years given those crimes of handling an offensive weapon were not recorded prior to 2017-18.
There now follows an analysis of clear up rates by crime group at both Scotland and local authority levels. It should be noted that some local authority areas have comparatively low levels of recorded crime, and so clear up rates that are based on small numbers should be treated with caution. Rates of over 100% can occur when crimes are cleared up in a different reporting period to the year in which they were recorded.
Non-sexual crimes of violence:
The clear up rate for Non-sexual crimes of violence decreased by 1.0 percentage point from 77.1% in 2016-17 to 76.1% in 2017-18. This clear up rate is the lowest since 2011-12, however this follows a generally upward trend since 1976, the first year for which comparable clear up rates are available. The clear up rate for Group 1 crimes ranged from 100% in the Orkney Islands to 61.5% in East Dunbartonshire.
Between 2016-17 and 2017-18 clear up rates increased for Homicide etc. by 5.0 percentage points from 99% to 104.1%. Clear up rates for both Robbery and Other violence fell over the same period. Robbery fell by 2.5 percentage points from 76.2% to 73.7% while Other violence fell by 3.4 percentage points from 71.7% to 68.3%. The clear up rate for Attempted murder and serious assault remained relatively unchanged, increasing by 0.3 percentage points from 78.6% to 78.9%.
Chart 18: Clear up rates for crimes recorded by the police by crime group, 19761 to 1994 then 1995-96 to 2017-18
1. Comparable clear up rates for the present crime groups are not available prior to 1976.
The clear up rate for Sexual crimes decreased by 1.9 percentage points in 2017-18, from 61.9% to 60%. Although the clear up rate for Group 2 crimes followed a generally upward trend in recent years, the clear up rate for 2017-18 is the lowest since 1981. Clear up rates ranged from 151.9% in the Orkney Islands to 46.2% in Renfrewshire.
Clear up rates decreased in all categories of Sexual crime between 2016-17 and 2017-18 with the exception of Sexual assault which rose by 0.9 percentage points from 57.4% to 58.4%. The rate for Rape and attempted rape fell by 5 percentage points from 59.6% in 2016-17 to 54.6% in 2017-18. The rate for Other sexual crimes and Crimes associated with prostitution fell by 1.8 percentage points and 9 percentage points respectively.
Crimes of dishonesty:
The clear up rate for Crimes of dishonesty increased by 0.1 percentage points in 2017-18, from 36.7% to 36.9%. Despite slight fluctuation year to year, this clear up rate has remained relatively stable over the ten year period since 2008-09. The clear up rate for Crimes of dishonesty ranged 72.2% in the Shetland Islands to 23.2% in the City of Edinburgh.
Clear up rates decreased for Theft of a motor vehicle by OLP, Shoplifting and Fraud between 2016-17 and 2017-18. All other categories saw an increase in clear up rates over the same period.
Fire-raising, vandalism etc.:
The clear up rate for Fire-raising, vandalism etc. increased by 0.1 percentage points in 2017-18, from 25.1% to 25.2%. Crimes of Fire-raising, vandalism etc. consistently have the lowest clear up rate of the five crime groups. The 2017-18 clear up rate for Fire-raising, vandalism etc. ranged from 58% in the Orkney Islands to 13.8% in Inverclyde.
The clear up rate for Fire-raising increased by 1.8 percentage points between 2016-17 and 2017-18, while the rate for Vandalism etc. remained practically unchanged.
Clear up rates for Other crimes are generally closer to 100% since these consist of many crimes for which someone is ‘caught in the act’. The clear up rate for Other crimes in 2017-18 was 89.6%, the lowest level in the ten year period from 2008-09 to 2017-18. The clear up rate for Group 5 crimes ranged from 101.5% in the Shetland Islands to 80.5% in East Dunbartonshire.
Between 2016-17 and 2017-18, the clear up rate for Other crimes fell by 4.3 percentage points from 95.3% to 91.0% - when the additional crimes of handling an offensive weapon, which were only recorded from 2017-18 onwards, are excluded.
If the additional crimes of handling an offensive weapon are included, the clear up rate fell by 5.7 percentage points from 95.3% to 89.6%. This is not a reliable measure of change between these two years given those crimes of handling an offensive weapon were not recorded prior to 2017-18.
Clear up rates decreased in all categories of Other crimes between 2016-17 and 2017-18. The rate for Handling offensive weapons where the weapon was not used in other criminal activity (i.e. the pre-existing measure) fell by 4.8 percentage points from 96.7% in 2016-17 to 91.9% in 2017-18. Crimes of handling an offensive weapon where the weapon was used in other criminal activity had a clear up rate of 71.1% in 2017-18. Drugs and the Other category fell by 6.6 and 6.3 percentage points respectively. Crimes against public justice fell by 0.4 percentage points over the same period.
Table 1: Percentage of crimes / offences cleared up1 by the police, Scotland, 2008-09 to 2017-182
|Crime / Offence group||2008-09||2009-10||2010-11||2011-12||2012-13||2013-14||2014-15||2015-16||2016-17||2017-18|
|Non-sexual crimes of violence||63.9||67.0||71.6||75.4||78.5||81.5||83.7||82.0||77.1||76.1|
|Homicide etc.3 (incl. causing death by driving)||100.0||105.7||99.2||96.7||104.4||101.9||107.6||101.2||99.0||104.1|
|Attempted murder & serious assault4||61.6||65.7||69.9||73.9||77.8||81.5||83.3||84.4||78.6||78.9|
|Rape & attempted rape||61.4||56.8||54.9||56.9||61.8||73.0||74.2||76.3||59.6||54.6|
|Crimes associated with prostitution||99.3||96.5||97.0||95.9||95.9||96.7||97.3||96.4||92.1||83.1|
|Other sexual crimes||62.9||67.3||68.6||72.2||72.7||79.4||75.5||74.9||65.1||63.3|
|Crimes of dishonesty||38.9||38.3||37.0||37.2||38.1||37.4||35.8||38.0||36.7||36.9|
|Theft by opening a lockfast place (OLP)||37.7||30.7||22.6||21.7||19.5||16.8||15.2||21.2||17.5||18.5|
|Theft from a motor vehicle by OLP||16.6||17.3||17.2||17.2||20.1||16.2||15.1||19.3||16.5||15.8|
|Theft of a motor vehicle||43.4||43.9||43.3||45.2||47.6||43.1||39.3||41.8||39.9||40.8|
|Fire-raising, vandalism etc.||25.0||25.6||25.0||25.4||27.0||25.1||22.8||24.3||25.1||25.2|
|Crimes against public justice||97.5||97.3||97.6||97.6||97.6||98.0||97.5||97.5||96.7||96.3|
|Handling offensive weapons||95.7||96.5||96.2||97.3||97.0||97.8||96.6||96.5||96.7||80.7|
|Breach of the peace etc.8||86.7||85.8||84.3||86.8||87.8||89.2||87.8||86.5||84.8||84.0|
|Drunkenness and other disorderly conduct7||99.9||99.9||99.9||99.8||99.9||99.9||99.8||99.8||99.6||99.5|
Please see Notes for Tables at end of Chapter 5.
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