Recorded Crime in Scotland, 2019-2020
Statistics on crimes and offences recorded and cleared up by the police in Scotland, split by crime or offence group and by local authority.
This document is part of a collection
Annex 1: Data Sources and Definitions
6.1. 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.
6.2. 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: https://www2.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Crime-Justice/PubRecordedCrime/TechnicalReport
6.3. 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.
6.4. The detailed classification of crimes and offences used by the Scottish Government to collect criminal statistics contains around 500 codes. These are grouped in the bulletin as shown in Chapter 7. Further information on crime codes can be found in the User Guide to Recorded Crime Statistics in Scotland, available via the following link:
6.5. The statistical return from which most of the figures in this bulletin are taken is a simple count of the numbers of crimes and offences, for each local authority, which the police have recorded and cleared up. Returns of quarterly data are submitted by Police Scotland and are used to produce a national total.
6.6. Amendments to crime and offence records will always arise after data has been submitted by Police Scotland to the Scottish Government. Some crime or offence records may, on further investigation by the police, be re-designated to not constitute a crime or offence (a process known as ‘no-criming’). In other cases the original crime or offence may be re-classified, which could shift the record between different crime or offence groups (for example if a common assault was found on further investigation to be a serious assault it would switch from Group 6 Miscellaneous Offences to Group 1 Non-sexual Crimes of Violence).
6.7. Following the implementation of the Scottish Operational Management Information System (ScOMIS) in Police Scotland, each quarterly submission of data to the Scottish Government contains revisions back to quarter 1 of the 2013-14 reporting year, reflecting the amendments described above. To assess the extent of these amendments, we have compared the crime and offence data published for 2018-19 (which was submitted to the Scottish Government in April 2019) with what ScOMIS reported for the same period one year later (April 2020). Table A9 shows the results of this exercise.
6.8. As with our analysis in previous bulletins, this comparison confirms that the extent of further amendment to police crime and offence records following the original submission of data continues to be minimal at the Scotland level. This gives users confidence that the published statistics for 2013-14 to 2018-19 still provide a sufficiently accurate measure of the extent of police recorded crimes and offences. On a proportional basis the biggest impact is on Group 5 Other Crime, where a net 799 fewer crimes have been recorded following no-criming and reclassification between groups. This has reduced the number of Other Crimes by 1.3% from 62,422 to 61,623.
|Crime or Offence Group||2018-19 Reporting Year|
|Submitted in April 2019||Submitted in April 2020||Difference||% Difference|
|Total Crime and Offences||494,271||492,626||-1,645||-0.3%|
|Group 1 Non Sexual Violent Crime||8,008||8,019||11||0.1%|
|Group 2 Sexual Crime||13,547||13,617||70||0.5%|
|Group 3 Crimes of Dishonesty||114,506||113,286||-1,220||-1.1%|
|Group 4 Fire Raising / Vandalism etc.||47,997||47,879||-118||-0.2%|
|Group 5 Other Crimes||62,422||61,623||-799||-1.3%|
|Group 6 Miscellaneous Offences||130,686||130,602||-84||-0.1%|
|Group 7 Motor Vehicle Offences||117,105||117,600||495||0.4%|
6.9. Despite the fact that only a very small proportion of records are amended following their original submission to the Scottish Government, it is important for National Statistics purposes that time series comparisons between 2013-14 to 2019-20 are on a like-for-like basis. As such the 2013-14 to 2018-19 data used in this bulletin remains that which was submitted immediately following each of these years, to ensure this is consistent with the timetable being followed for the submission of data for 2019-20 (i.e. the same amount of time has elapsed for amendments to records for each reporting year based on ScOMIS).
6.10. This analysis demonstrates that a more up-to-date set of figures are available from ScOMIS for 2013-14 to 2018-19 than is included in this National Statistics publication. Given this, we asked the Scottish Crime Recording Board to assess whether any amendment to our revisions policy should be made before the 2015-16 publication. In light of the minimal level of change following the original submission of data, the Board concluded in December 2015 that no changes were necessary to our revisions policy as our current approach was simple to understand and kept open the possibility of future publications coming out earlier in the year.
6.11. Information on the data source used in the Recorded Crime bulletin series and supporting metadata can be found in the Data Sources and Suitability document which is available via the following link: https://www2.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Crime-Justice/DataSource/RecordedCrimeSandS
6.12. The main Scottish Government Statement of Administrative Sources covers all sources of administrative data used by Scottish Government statisticians. This statement can be found on the Scottish Government website at: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/About/StatementAdminSources.
6.13. A separate statement of administrative sources is available for Police statistics via the following link:
6.14. Information is also collected from the British Transport Police and the Ministry of Defence Police, but these figures have not been included in the main body of this bulletin. The following crimes and offences were recorded by these two organisations:
|Crimes||Crime clear up rate||Offences||Offence clear up rate|
|Total recorded by British Transport Police||1,346||36.6%||3,129||38.4%|
|Total recorded by Ministry of Defence Police||57||29.8%||-||-|
Please see Notes for Tables at end of Chapter 5.
New series of monthly Official Statistics:
6.15. To inform users about the volume and type of crimes and offences recorded in Scotland during the pandemic, the Scottish Government introduced a new monthly series of Official Statistics from April 2020 onwards. These can be accessed at: https://www.gov.scot/collections/recorded-crime-in-scotland/
Data publication in Police Scotland Quarterly Management Information Reports:
6.16. In addition to the National Statistics, Police Scotland publish management information on the number of crimes and offences recorded by the police. This is presented within their Quarterly Management Information Reports, which are available from the ‘Our Performance’ section of Police Scotland’s website: http://www.scotland.police.uk/about-us/our-performance/.
These reports are produced to demonstrate Police Scotland’s commitment to transparency (alongside other regular reporting activity to the Scottish Police Authority). The information within these reports is presented on a cumulative quarterly basis, with the first quarter of a reporting year containing 3 months of data (from April to June), the second containing 6 months of data (from April to September), etc.. The reports are typically published within 2 months of the period to which they refer.
The Quarterly Management Information Reports advise users that the data they contain on recorded crime is based on the Administrative Data available to Police Scotland at that time and not the National Statistics. The annual National Statistics published by the Scottish Government on police recorded crime are based on the same source of administrative information which has undergone further quality assurance work, including additional dialogue with Police Scotland, in line with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.
6.17. In one criminal incident, several crimes or offences may occur - e.g. a house may be broken into and vandalised, and the occupants assaulted. In this example, crimes of housebreaking (which would include the vandalism) and assaults would be recorded. In multiple offence incidents, more than one offence may be counted rather than one for the incident as a whole; that is, the counting system is offence based rather than incident based.
6.18. An offence may have more than one victim - for example in robberies - and be committed by more than one offender – e.g. some assaults and housebreakings (note that for Murder, Attempted murder and Culpable homicide, the number of crimes recorded is equal to the number of victims). Thus the statistics in this bulletin are not directly comparable with statistics on action taken against offenders, as one offence may lead to several persons being charged. Equally, an offender may be charged with several offences.
6.19. In Scotland, assault is a common law offence. In order to distinguish between Serious and Common assaults, Police Scotland use a common definition for Serious assault:
- “An assault or attack in which the victim sustains injury resulting in detention in hospital as an inpatient, for the treatment of that injury, or any of the following injuries whether or not detained in hospital:
- Fractures (the breaking or cracking of a bone. Note – nose is cartilage not bone, so a ‘broken nose’ should not be classified unless it meets one of the other criteria)
- Internal injuries
- Severe concussion
- Lacerations requiring sutures which may lead to impairment or disfigurement
- Any other injury which may lead to impairment or disfigurement.”
6.20. 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.
6.21. 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).Crimes of Violence will be included in HMICS’s 2020 audit.
6.22. Attempts to commit an offence are included in the statistics, in general in the same group as the substantive offence.
6.23. Housebreaking can be broken down into different building types: dwelling, non-dwelling and other property. Where ‘domestic dwelling’ is presented in the statistics, this refers to dwellings and non‑dwellings only.
Dwelling is defined as a house which is being used for (or fit to be used for) residential purposes. Non-dwelling is defined as all roofed buildings used for domestic purposes other than dwellings (for example garages, garden huts, outhouses, etc.). Other property is defined as all roofed buildings not used for residential or domestic purposes (for example commercial premises). Further information on the different types of building included under each of these headings is available in the Scottish Crime Recording Standard (the manual that details rules and guidance for how crimes should be recorded):
Annex 2: Quality of the Statistics
Governance of Data Quality for Police Recorded Crime:
6.24. The Police Service of Scotland (referred to throughout this report as Police Scotland) is responsible for operational policing in Scotland and is held to account by the Scottish Police Authority. The Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 changed the policing landscape in Scotland, replacing the previous eight police forces, the Scottish Police Services Authority and the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency from 1 April 2013.
6.25. The recording of crime by the police and the subsequent publication of information through this statistical bulletin is undertaken by those who are professionally independent of wider decision-making and performance processes within their organisations. Within Police Scotland, the Crime Registrars ensure that crimes in Scotland are recorded ethically. They sit within the corporate services business area so that they are removed from direct operational activity and investigation. In turn, the production of the National Statistics on recorded crime is managed in an impartial and objective way, in the public interest, by Scottish Government statisticians.
6.26. A Scottish Crime Recording Board supports the production of accurate and objective statistics on crime in Scotland. It takes into account the needs of both users and providers in the production of crime statistics and ensures that this process is undertaken in a manner consistent with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. The Board is chaired by the Justice Analytical Services division of the Scottish Government and a wide range of organisations are represented including Police Scotland, the Scottish Police Authority, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) and the Crown and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS). Information on the remit and functions of the Board, its actions and outcomes, is available from the following link: https://www2.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Crime-Justice/PubRecordedCrime/SCRB.
6.27. In general, this statistical bulletin covers the ten year period from 2010-11 to 2019-20, the entirety of which is subject to the Scottish Crime Recording Standard (SCRS) introduced in 2004-05. The SCRS has helped maintain a consistent approach to recording crime and is maintained and developed by the Scottish Crime Recording Board. A copy of the manual can be accessed from the Board’s webpages: https://www2.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Crime-Justice/PubRecordedCrime/SCRB/SCRSmanual
6.28. A Framework of Assurance is available for Recorded Crime statistics to provide evidence on:
- the suitability of the administrative data for use in producing national statistics;
- factors that the statistical producer needs to take into account in producing the national statistics;
- the information that users need to know in order to make informed use of the statistics.
The Framework of Assurance can be accessed via the link below. The aforementioned Crime Recording Board has responsibility for approving any changes to this product: https://www2.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Crime-Justice/PubRecordedCrime/FoA
6.29. 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.
6.30. HMICS audited just over 7,000 incidents reported between 1st January and 31st March 2016. Five categories were included, three of which related to specific crime types:
- Sexual crime
- Violent crime
- Vandalism (Damage)
- Non-crime related incidents (i.e. incidents that were potentially crime-related but which were ultimately closed as being non-crime related); and
- No-crimes (i.e. cases that were originally thought to be a crime but were later redesignated as not being a crime following additional investigation).
Further information on how the audit relates to the findings of this report can be found in the previous bulletin: https://www.gov.scot/publications/recorded-crime-scotland-2018-19/
The full report, including key findings, recommendations and improvement actions, can be accessed from the HMICS website:
The next HMICS Crime Audit is scheduled to be published in December 2020. Further information about HMICS’s future work plan can be found at: https://www.hmics.scot/publications/hmics-annual-scrutiny-plan-2020-21
The findings of this audit will be highlighted in the Recorded Crime in Scotland 2020-21 National Statistics bulletin.
6.31. In addition to HMICS, audits of incident and crime records are also undertaken by Police Scotland’s Crime Registrars. In March 2016 the Crime Board considered how the audits by both HMICS and Police Scotland could best collectively support the quality assurance of these National Statistics. It concluded that HMICS should remain the primary source of audit-based assurance, given their role as an independent auditor. The results of Police Scotland’s audit process will still be fed back to the Board by the National Crime Registrar. Where statisticians consider that this information has substantial data-quality implications, they will notify users of this through future publications and the ScotStat network. Users will also be kept informed of any Crime Board action(s) taken in response.
Quality Assurance of Submitted Data:
6.32. Detailed information on the quality assurance processes applied to recorded crime data is available in the Scottish Crime Statistics: Quality Assurance process document, available via the following link: https://www2.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Crime-Justice/PubRecordedCrime/qualityassurance
6.33. Before the publication of the Recorded Crime in Scotland, 2013-14 bulletin, an extensive quality assurance exercise was carried out to ensure consistency of data pre- and post-police reform, and to check the quality of recorded crime data supplied by the police. This exercise raised several data quality issues which led to a number of corrections to legacy data published in previous years.
In terms of comparability, the Scottish Government are satisfied that crime data, Groups 1 to 5, are comparable pre- and post-reform. This means there is no break in the time series for this data. However the overall comparability for offences data, Groups 6 and 7, has been affected by some of the issues relating to legacy force data and changes in recording practices.
The extent of the amendments made to the data as part of the quality assurance exercise referred to above, along with all findings of this exercise and their impact on comparability, have been published in a Technical Report, available via the following link:
Annex 3: Comparisons with England & Wales and Northern Ireland
6.34. Recorded crime statistics for England & Wales are not directly comparable with those in Scotland. The recorded crime statistics for Scotland are collected on the basis of the Scottish Crime Recording Standard (SCRS), which was introduced in 2004. Like its counterpart in England & Wales, it aims to give consistency in crime recording.
The main principles of the SCRS, with regard to when a crime should be recorded, are similar to the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) for England & Wales. However, there are various differences between the respective Counting Rules which specify different approaches for counting the number of crimes that should be recorded as a result of a single incident.
For instance, crimes recorded in England & Wales tend to be incident based, where the Principle Crime Rule states that if the sequence of crimes in an incident, or a complex crime, contains more than one type of crime, then the most serious crime should be counted. For example, an incident where an intruder breaks into a home and assaults the sole occupant would be recorded as two crimes in Scotland, while in England & Wales it would be recorded as one crime.
6.35. Differences in legislation and common law also have to be taken into account when comparing the crime statistics for England & Wales and Scotland.
6.36. Crime Statistics for England & Wales are published quarterly on the Office for National Statistics (ONS) website. The latest Crime Statistics for England & Wales can be accessed from the following link:
6.37. The legal system in Northern Ireland is based on that of England & Wales and the Police Service for Northern Ireland (PSNI) has the same notifiable offence list for recorded crime as used in England & Wales. In addition, the PSNI has adopted the NCRS and Home Office Counting Rules for recorded crime that applies in England & Wales. Thus, there are comparability considerations similar to those detailed above between recorded crime statistics for Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Crime statistics for Northern Ireland are collected and published separately. The latest Police Recorded Crime Statistics for Northern Ireland can be accessed from the following link: https://www.psni.police.uk/inside-psni/
6.38. Further detail on the comparability of crime data can be found in the User Guide to Recorded Crime Statistics in Scotland, available from:
Annex 4: User Engagement
6.39. These statistics are used by a large number of stakeholders within central government, the police and other public bodies for a variety of purposes.
6.40. We will continue to consult with the users of the National Statistics in order to get a better understanding of who the users are and what their requirements are for both the data and the presentation of these statistics.
6.41. As part of this work, we ran a consultation in 2019 on behalf of the Scottish Crime Recording Board. This focused on how the National Statistics are presented and invited user views on some potential changes in approach to the grouping structure outlined above in the Background chapter. The consultation closed on 30th November 2019. Further background to the consultation can be found at the following link: https://www.gov.scot/publications/consultation-official-statistics-present-information-recorded-crime-related-topics/
6.42. Following the consultation, the Crime Board was due to consider responses alongside other stakeholder feedback in advance of deciding any changes to how these statistics are presented in future. However this work is currently paused due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the resultant increase in demand for associated analysis (for example the recent introduction of new monthly official statistics on crimes and offences recorded by the police). Going forward, users will be kept informed of any developments relating to the consultation through the ScotStat network.
A report on the results of our earlier consultation, conducted from April to June 2015 can be found at the link below: https://www2.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Crime-Justice/scotstatcrime/StakeCon/RCUC2015
6.43. We always welcome feedback on the content and the uses made of our statistical bulletins and users are invited to submit their comments and any suggestions for improvement to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to be kept informed about developments in crime statistics, we suggest registering with ScotStat: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/scotstat.
6.44. Further information on users and uses of the statistics is available in the User Guide to Recorded Crime Statistics in Scotland, which can be found at: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Crime-Justice/PubRecordedCrime/UserGuide.
Annex 5: Upcoming Coding Changes and Future Considerations
Changes to the Coding of Recorded Crimes and Offences:
6.45. Changes made to the rules governing the coding and counting of crimes and offences within the Scottish Crime Recording Standard (SCRS) must be approved by the Scottish Crime Recording Board (SCRB) (Annex 2 provides background information on the role of the Board).
Offensive Weapons Act
6.46. The Offensive Weapons Act received Royal Assent in May 2019. The Act will make it illegal to possess dangerous weapons in private, and will make it a criminal offence to dispatch bladed products sold online without verifying the buyer is over 18. The Act also makes it an offence to possess a corrosive substance in a public place, and has updated the definition of a flick knife to reflect changing weapons design. The Scottish Crime Recording Board will continue to monitor the implementation of this Act and users will be informed of what impact these changes will have on the presentation of the National Statistics.
New data repository for recorded crime
6.47. Since 2013-14, the National Statistics on Recorded Crime in Scotland have been produced using data extracted from a single Police Scotland IT system, called the Scottish Operational and Management Information System (ScOMIS). This data is then provided to the Scottish Government on a quarterly basis for the production of the National Statistics. In 2019, Police Scotland developed a new data repository (which is designed, in part, to replace ScOMIS), called the Source for Evidence Based Policing (SEBP). The intention is that this will become the new source of information for the recorded crime National Statistics for the 2020-21 reporting year (to be published in September 2021) onwards.
6.48. Scottish Government analysts, in collaboration with Police Scotland, are conducting a comparative analysis to understand how changing from ScOMIS to SEBP will impact the production of the recorded crime statistics. Once completed, a technical paper will be published on (i) the findings of this work including any potential impact on time-series analysis and (ii), the proposed timing for the transition from ScOMIS to SEBP. Users will be kept informed of any developments in this area through the ScotStat network.
6.49. A procedural change was made in April 2020 to how crimes which could involve a victim and a perpetrator in different physical locations (e.g. cyber-enabled crimes) are recorded. Prior to the 1st April 2020, these statistics excluded any crime with a victim in Scotland and a perpetrator who was confirmed by the police to be outside the United Kingdom when the crime took place. Following a recommendation by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspectorate for Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) to review recording practice in this area, the Scottish Crime Recording Board approved a change so that from the 1st April these crimes are now included in the statistics. It should be noted that those cases with only a suspicion or insufficient evidence to confirm that the perpetrator was outside the UK were always included.
6.50. This change is likely to lead to the recording of additional crimes for those types of crime which could be committed using digital technologies. At this early stage we are unable to say to what extent this procedural change has increased levels of recorded crime, however Scottish Government analysts will monitor the impact.
6.51. We are always keen to hear users’ views on our products. If you have any comments or suggestions on how you would like to access information please contact us at JusticeAnalysts@gov.scot.
Annex 6: Other Notes
6.52. Under the Code of Practice for Official Statistics, the estimated costs of responding to statistical surveys and data collection are to be published.
The estimated cost of compliance for supplying and validating the data for this bulletin is: £750.
Details of the calculation methodology are available on the Scottish Government Crime and Justice website at:
6.53. Clearly, only a limited selection of tables can be included in any statistical bulletin. Further analysis of recorded crime statistics can be supplied on request. This includes available information relating to time periods other than those covered in the bulletin. In certain cases a fee is charged. For details of what can be provided, please contact Debbie Kyle at JusticeAnalysts@gov.scot.
There is a problem
Thanks for your feedback