4. Clear up rates
This chapter presents statistics on recorded crime clear up rates in Scotland during 2018-19. Whereas the rest of this bulletin presents recorded crime statistics that have been produced as National Statistics (following the then UKSA's decision to re-designate this information as National Statistics in 2016) – these clear up rate statistics remain published as Official Statistics.
The Office for Statistics Regulation will re-visit the statistical designation of this information once an audit has been carried out and the Scottish Crime Recording Board has considered any implications for the quality of the data.
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 11th 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 2018-19 bulletin (as with previous bulletins) will have been dealt with by a RPW.
This 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 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 increased by 1.5 percentage points from 49.5% in 2017-18 to 51.0% in 2018-19. Clear up rates have been relatively stable over the last decade following a generally upward trend since 1976, the first year for which comparable clear up rates are available, as shown by Chart 18 below (Table 3).
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 2.8 percentage points from 76.1% in 2017-18 to 73.3% in 2018-19. This clear up rate is the lowest since 2010-11, 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 113.3% in the Orkney Islands to 59.3% in Glasgow City.
Between 2017-18 and 2018-19 clear up rates for Homicide etc. decreased by 10.0 percentage points from 104.1% to 94.1%. Clear up rates for Attempted murder and serious assault, Robbery and Other violence fell over the same period. Attempted murder and serious assault fell by 2.6 percentage points from 78.9% to 76.3%. Robbery fell by 1.3 percentage points from 73.7% to 72.4% while Other violence fell by 3.0 percentage points from 68.3% to 65.3%.
Chart 18: Clear up rates for crimes recorded by the police by crime group, 19761 to 1994 then 1995-96 to 2018-19
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 2018-19, from 60.0% in 2017-18 to 58.1%. The clear up rate for 2018-19 is the lowest since 1979. Clear up rates ranged from 85.7% in the Orkney Islands to 46.6% in Inverclyde.
Clear up rates decreased in all categories of Sexual crime between 2017-18 and 2018-19 with the exception of Crimes associated with prostitution which rose by 3.7 percentage points from 83.1% to 86.8%. The rate for Rape and attempted rape fell by 1.9 percentage points from 54.6% in 2017-18 to 52.7% in 2018-19. The rate for Sexual assault fell 0.6 percentage points (using unrounded figures) from 58.4% to 57.7% and the rate for Other sexual crimes fell by 3.7 percentage points (using unrounded figures) from 63.3% to 59.5%.
Crimes of dishonesty:
The clear up rate for Crimes of dishonesty increased by 1.4 percentage points in 2018-19, from 36.9% to 38.3%. Despite slight fluctuation year to year, this clear up rate has remained relatively stable over the ten year period since 2009-10. The clear up rate for Crimes of dishonesty ranged from 56.2% in Highland to 27.2% in East Dunbartonshire.
Clear up rates decreased for Theft by opening a lockfast place, Fraud and Other dishonesty between 2017-18 and 2018-19. All other categories (including, for example Housebreaking and Theft of a motor vehicle) saw an increase in clear up rates over the same period, with the exception of Shoplifting, for which the clear up rate remained constant.
Fire-raising, vandalism etc.:
The clear up rate for Fire-raising, vandalism etc. increased by 0.7 percentage points in 2018-19, from 25.2% to 25.9%. Crimes of Fire-raising, vandalism etc. consistently have the lowest clear up rate of the five crime groups. The 2018-19 clear up rate for Fire-raising, vandalism etc. ranged from 43.4% in the Orkney Islands to 15.2% in East Renfrewshire.
The clear up rate for Fire-raising decreased by 0.6 percentage points between 2017-18 and 2018-19, while the rate for Vandalism etc. increased by 0.8 percentage points.
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 fell by 0.6 percentage points in 2018-19, from 89.6% to 89.0%, the lowest level in the ten year period from 2009-10 to 2018-19. The clear up rate for Group 5 crimes ranged from 104.7% in Na h-Eileanan Siar to 82.3% in Inverclyde.
The clear up rate for Crimes against public justice increased by 0.3 percentage points (using unrounded figures) from 96.3% in 2017-18 to 96.7% in 2018-19. The clear up rate for the Other category increased by 5.7 percentage points from 89.9% to 95.6%. The clear up rate for Crimes of handling an offensive weapon decreased by 0.5 percentage points (using unrounded figures) from 80.7% to 80.3% and the clear up rate for Drugs crimes fell by 0.6 percentage points (using unrounded figures) from 87.8% to 87.1%.
Table 3: Percentage of crimes / offences cleared up1 by the police, Scotland, 2009-10 to 2018-192
|Crime / Offence group||2009-10||2010-11||2011-12||2012-13||2013-14||2014-15||2015-16||2016-17||2017-18*||2018-19|
|Non-sexual crimes of violence||67.0||71.6||75.4||78.5||81.5||83.7||82.0||77.1||76.1||73.3|
|Homicide etc.3 (incl. causing death by driving)||105.7||99.2||96.7||104.4||101.9||107.6||101.2||99.0||104.1||94.1|
|Attempted murder & serious assault4||65.7||69.9||73.9||77.8||81.5||83.3||84.4||78.6||78.9||76.3|
|Rape & attempted rape||56.8||54.9||56.9||61.8||73.0||74.2||76.3||59.6||54.6||52.7|
|Crimes associated with prostitution||96.5||97.0||95.9||95.9||96.7||97.3||96.4||92.1||83.1||86.8|
|Other sexual crimes||67.3||68.6||72.2||72.7||79.4||75.5||74.9||65.1||63.3||59.5|
|Crimes of dishonesty||38.3||37.0||37.2||38.1||37.4||35.8||38.0||36.7||36.9||38.3|
|Theft by opening a lockfast place (OLP)||30.7||22.6||21.7||19.5||16.8||15.2||21.2||17.5||18.5||18.2|
|Theft from a motor vehicle by OLP||17.3||17.2||17.2||20.1||16.2||15.1||19.3||16.5||15.8||19.2|
|Theft of a motor vehicle||43.9||43.3||45.2||47.6||43.1||39.3||41.8||39.9||40.8||41.7|
|Fire-raising, vandalism etc.||25.6||25.0||25.4||27.0||25.1||22.8||24.3||25.1||25.2||25.9|
|Crimes against public justice||97.3||97.6||97.6||97.6||98.0||97.5||97.5||96.7||96.3||96.7|
|Handling offensive weapons||80.7||80.3|
|Not used in other criminal activity||96.5||96.2||97.3||97.0||97.8||96.6||96.5||96.7||91.9||90.1|
|Used in other criminal activity||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||71.1||71.4|
|Breach of the peace etc.8||85.8||84.3||86.8||87.8||89.2||87.8||86.5||84.8||84.0||83.3|
|Drunkenness and other disorderly conduct7||99.9||99.9||99.8||99.9||99.9||99.8||99.8||99.6||99.5||99.3|
Please see Notes for Tables at end of Chapter 5.
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