Recorded Crime in Scotland, 2020-2021

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 bulletin also includes a new chapter which presents an estimate of how many cyber-crimes were recorded in Scotland during 2019-20 and 2020-21.

7. Annexes

Annex 1: Data Sources and Definitions

Data collection

7.1. National Statistics on total recorded crime are based on data which Police Scotland extract from their data repository (called the Source for Evidence Based Policing (SEBP)) and submit to the Scottish Government. Prior to 2020/21, the data was collected from a different Police Scotland IT system (called the Scottish Operational and Management Information System (ScOMIS)).

7.2. Scottish Government statisticians, with support from Police Scotland, conducted a comparative analysis between ScOMIS and SEBP. This analysis considered the impact of changing the source of recorded crime statistics from ScOMIS to SEBP and found that there is strong alignment between both administrative systems, with just minor discrepancies. The outcomes of this work are discussed in more detail in Annex 3.

7.3. 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: Technical Report on the Comparability of Recorded Crime Data (

7.4. 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.

7.5. The detailed classification of crimes and offences used by the Scottish Government to collect criminal statistics contains around 500 codes. Further information on how the crime codes are grouped can be found in the User Guide to Recorded Crime Statistics in Scotland, available via the following link: Recorded crime in Scotland: user guide - (

7.6. The statistical return from which most of the figures in this bulletin are taken is a simple count of the numbers of crimes and offences, for each local authority, which the police have recorded and cleared up. Returns of quarterly data are submitted by Police Scotland and are used to produce a national total.

7.7. Amendments to crime and offence records will always arise after data has been submitted by Police Scotland to the Scottish Government.

7.8. 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 2019-20 recorded crimes and offences are reliable. On a proportional basis the biggest impact is on Group 3 Crimes of Dishonesty, where a net 1,949 fewer crimes have been recorded following no-criming and reclassification between groups. This has reduced the number of Crimes of Dishonesty by 1.7% from 111,409 to 109,460.

Table A13: Revisions of crimes recorded by the police, Scotland, 2019-20
Crime or Offence Group 2019-20 Reporting Year
Submitted in April 2020 Submitted in April 2021 Difference Difference
Total Crime and Offences 497,071 494,162 -2,909 -0.6%
Total Crime 246,409 244,116 -2,293 -0.9%
Group 1 Non Sexual Violent Crime 9,316 9,313 -3 0.0%
Group 2 Sexual Crime 13,364 13,506 142 1.1%
Group 3 Crimes of Dishonesty 111,409 109,460 -1,949 -1.7%
Group 4 Fire Raising / Vandalism etc. 47,731 48,175 444 0.9%
Group 5 Other Crimes 64,589 63,662 -927 -1.4%
Total Offences 250,662 250,046 -616 -0.2%
Group 6 Miscellaneous Offences 128,755 128,634 -121 -0.1%
Group 7 Motor Vehicle Offences 121,907 121,412 -495 -0.4%

7.9. 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 2020-21 are on a like-for-like basis. As such the 2013-14 to 2019-20 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 2020-21 (i.e. the same amount of time has elapsed for amendments to records for each reporting year based on ScOMIS/SEBP).

7.10. This analysis demonstrates that a more up-to-date set of figures are available from ScOMIS for 2013-14 to 2019-20 than is included in this National Statistics publication. Given this, we asked the Scottish Crime Recording Board[13] to assess whether any amendment to our revisions policy should be made before the 2015-16 publication. In light of the minimal level of change following the original submission of data, the Board concluded in December 2015 that no changes were necessary to our revisions policy as our current approach was simple to understand and kept open the possibility of future publications coming out earlier in the year.

7.11. Information on the data source used in the Recorded Crime bulletin series and supporting metadata can be found in the User Guide which is available via the following link: Recorded crime in Scotland: user guide - (

7.12. 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:

Table A14: Crimes and offences recorded and cleared up (as a percentage of those recorded) by the British Transport Police and Ministry of Defence Police, Scotland, 2020-21
Crimes Crime clear up rate Offences Offence clear up rate
Total recorded by British Transport Police 1,396 49.6% 3,332 33.2%
Total recorded by Ministry of Defence Police 62 19.4% - -

Please see Notes for Tables at end of Chapter 6.

New series of monthly Official Statistics

7.13. 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:

Data publication in Police Scotland Quarterly Management Information Reports

7.14. 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:

For more information on these statistics please see the User Guide.

Data Definitions:

7.15. 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.

7.16. An offence may have more than one victim - for example in robberies - and be committed by more than one offender – e.g. some assaults and housebreakings (note that for Murder, Attempted murder and Culpable homicide, the number of crimes recorded is equal to the number of victims). Thus the statistics in this bulletin are not directly comparable with statistics on action taken against offenders, as one offence may lead to several persons being charged. Equally, an offender may be charged with several offences.

7.17. In Scotland, assault is a common law offence. In order to distinguish between Serious and Common assaults, Police Scotland use a common definition for Serious assault:

“An assault or attack in which the victim sustains injury resulting in detention in hospital as an inpatient, for the treatment of that injury, or any of the following injuries whether or not detained in hospital:

  • Fractures (the breaking or cracking of a bone. Note – nose is cartilage not bone, so a ‘broken nose’ should not be classified unless it meets one of the other criteria)
  • Internal injuries
  • Severe concussion
  • Lacerations requiring sutures which may lead to impairment or disfigurement
  • Any other injury which may lead to impairment or disfigurement.”

7.18. 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.

7.19. 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 were included in HMICS’s 2020 audit.

7.20. Attempts to commit an offence are included in the statistics, in general in the same group as the substantive offence.

7.21. 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.

7.22. 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:

7.23. 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.

7.24. 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.

7.25. 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: Scottish Crime Recording Board - (

7.26. In general, this statistical bulletin covers the ten year period from 2011-12 to 2020-21, 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: Scottish Crime Recording Board: crime recording and counting rules - (

7.27. The User Guide documents the steps undertaken to quality assure data that is captured and published as management information by Police Scotland, and analysed and produced as National Statistics by the Scottish Government. This includes a summary of the quality checks made at each stage of the data journey, from capture to publication. The User Guide is available via the following link: Recorded crime in Scotland: user guide - (

Annex 3: Qualitative assessment of switching the source for the Recorded Crime in Scotland National Statistics


7.28. Between 2013-14 and 2019-20, the National Statistics on Recorded Crime in Scotland were produced using data extracted from a single Police Scotland IT system, called the Scottish Operational and Management Information System (ScOMIS). This data was then provided to the Scottish Government on a quarterly basis for the production of the National Statistics (see Annex 1 for more information).

7.29. In 2019, Police Scotland developed a new data repository called the Source for Evidence Based Policing (SEBP). This was designed, in part, to replace ScOMIS and therefore become the new official source of information for the recorded crime National Statistics.

7.30. At the March 2021 Crime Board, members approved the switch from ScOMIS to SEBP for the production of the National Statistics. This commenced with the 2020-21 reporting year.

7.31. Since then, Justice Analytical Services, with support from Police Scotland analysts, have completed a technical review of the impact this switch in sources had on the 2020-21 crime data, – with a summary provided below.


7.32. Police Scotland analysts provided a comparable dataset extracted from both ScOMIS and SEBP. These datasets included the number of crimes both recorded and cleared up, by local authority for the 2020-21 financial year. As these were drawn from a live operational database at a different time from the extract used for the National Statistics, the findings below are based on 2020-21 figures that will differ slightly from those presented elsewhere in the bulletin.

Total recorded crimes

7.33. There was a strong degree of alignment between ScOMIS and SEBP for recorded crime in 2020-21. The technical review found that a very small number of additional crimes (representing just 0.2% of all crimes recorded in 2020-21) were included in SEBP but not ScOMIS. Both sources also showed strong alignment in terms of clear-up rates for recorded crimes. In 2020-21, the clear-up rate recorded by ScOMIS was 56.6%, whilst for SEBP it was 56.7%, a difference of 0.1 percentage points. As such the impact on time-series analysis of changing sources to SEBP is negligible at the Scotland level.

7.34. This minimal difference largely related to some additional crimes of Vandalism etc. being recorded in SEBP rather than ScOMIS. As such the inclusion of those crimes in SEBP represents a small improvement to the administrative processes used by Police Scotland to capture crime data for statistical purposes.

Total recorded offences

7.35. There was also a strong degree of alignment between ScOMIS and SEBP for recorded Miscellaneous offences in 2020-21. This technical review found that a very small number of these cases (representing just 0.2% of all crimes recorded in 2020-21) were included in SEBP but not ScOMIS. As such the impact on time-series analysis of changing sources to SEBP for Miscellaneous offences is also negligible at the Scotland level.

7.36. The largest identified difference between the two sources was for Group 7 – Motor vehicle offences, where some offence types such as Unlawful use of a motor vehicle, Speeding etc. had additional offences recorded in SEBP but not ScOMIS. This discrepancy represented only 3% of all Motor vehicle offences recorded in 2020-21 and as such the alignment between the two sources was still considered to be good.

Summary of findings

7.37. As highlighted above, this 2020-21 technical review on the impact of changing from ScOMIS to SEBP, found strong alignment between both administrative systems for recorded crime. Some small discrepancies were identified, specifically around crimes of vandalism (some of which appear in SEBP but haven’t been drawn through within ScOMIS). Whilst they have a small to negligible impact at the national level, they are concentrated amongst particular crime types within specific local authorities and therefore may have a slightly greater impact in these areas.

7.38. Further information on this change in sources for the National Statistics, including the analysis underpinning the above summary, is available to users on request (

Annex 4: Comparisons with England & Wales and Northern Ireland

7.39. Recorded crime statistics for England & Wales and Northern Ireland are not directly comparable with those in Scotland. The main principles when a crime should be recorded, are similar in all four nations. 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.

7.40. Differences in legislation and common law also have to be taken into account when comparing the crime statistics for England & Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

7.41. Further detail on the comparability of crime data can be found in the User Guide to Recorded Crime Statistics in Scotland, available from: Recorded crime in Scotland: user guide - (

Annex 5: User Engagement

7.42. These statistics are used by a large number of stakeholders within central government, the police and other public bodies for a variety of purposes.

7.43. 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.

7.44. 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 full Summary of Responses to the 2019 consultation can be accessed online.

7.45. Following a pause in this work due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, a follow up consultation of users on a new and revised set of crime groups is planned for the Autumn of 2021 (alongside wider views being invited on the production of the recorded crime statistics). Users will be kept informed of developments relating to the consultation through the ScotStat network. .

7.46. Further information on previous user consultations can be found in the user guide: Recorded crime in Scotland: user guide - (

7.47. 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:

7.48. If you would like to be kept informed about developments in crime statistics, we suggest registering with ScotStat: Scottish Government Subscriptions - Login | ScotStat.

7.49. 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: Recorded crime in Scotland: user guide - (

Annex 6: Upcoming Coding Changes and Future Considerations

Changes to the Coding of Recorded Crimes and Offences:

7.50. 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).

Future Considerations

Offensive Weapons Act

7.51. 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.

Protection of Workers Act

7.52. The Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-restricted Goods and Services) (Scotland) Act 2021 was enacted from 24 August 2021. The Act makes it an offence for a person to assault, threaten or abuse another person who is a retail worker and who is engaged, at the time of the offence, in retail work. Committing this offence while a retail worker is enforcing a statutory age restriction also constitutes an aggravation.

7.53. 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

Annex 7: Other Notes

7.54. Under the Code of Practice for Official Statistics, the estimated costs of responding to statistical surveys and data collection are to be published.

7.55. The estimated cost of compliance for supplying and validating the data for this bulletin is: £750.

7.56. Details of the calculation methodology are available on the Scottish Government Crime and Justice website at: Calculation of estimated costs of responding to statistical surveys (

7.57. 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



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