Recorded Crime in Scotland, 2021-2022

Statistics on crimes and offences recorded and cleared up by the police in Scotland in 2021-22, split by crime or offence group and by local authority.

This document is part of a collection

Official Statistics on clear up rates

This section presents statistics on recorded crime clear up rates in Scotland during 2021-22. Whereas the rest of this bulletin presents recorded crime statistics that have been produced as National Statistics, these clear up rate statistics remain published as Official Statistics.

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.

Clear up rates are calculated as follows:

Clear up rates presented are rounded to one decimal place.

Because crimes or offences may be cleared up in a different year than they were recorded rates in excess of 100% can arise.

Clear up rates for both the Coronavirus restrictions crimes group and Road traffic offences group are not included in this bulletin, as by their nature both typically involve criminality in which the offender is ‘caught in the act’. Further to this, it has not been possible to obtain clear up rate information for the Coronavirus restrictions group, due to the separate and bespoke data collection used by Police Scotland. Further detail on clear up rates by groups and categories is available from the 'Supporting documents' Excel workbook (Table 3).

More information on clear up rates is available in the User Guide.

Total recorded crime

The new crime grouping structure, used for the first time in this year’s bulletin, also affects the calculation of clear up rates. To ensure no break to time series analysis, all data on clear up rates has been back-revised, using the same approach as for statistics presented in previous chapters.

In 2021-22 the clear up rate was 54.0%, down from 59.3% in 2020-21, and similar to the 54.9% recorded in 2019-20. The increase in 2020-21 likely reflected the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the types of crime recorded, with the volume of those crimes that have relatively lower clear up rates falling more sharply than those with relatively higher clear up rates.

The fall back to 54.0% in 2021-22 reflects a partial return to the volume of different crime types recorded in the year prior to the pandemic (2019-20), albeit clear up rates have still fallen for each of the individual crime groups (see below for further detail).

Prior to 2020-21, clear up rates had 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 15 below. Chart 16 shows the clear up rates by crime group from 1976 onwards.

Chart 15: Clear up rate for total recorded crime, 1976 1 to 1994, 1995-96 to 2021-22

1. Comparable clear up rates for the present crime groups are not available prior to 1976.

Chart 16: Clear up rates for crimes recorded by the police by crime group, 1976 to 1994, 1995-96 to 2021-22

1. Comparable clear up rates for the present crime groups are not available prior to 1976.

Non-sexual crimes of violence

The clear up rate for Non-sexual crimes of violence decreased from 72.1% in 2020-21 to 67.1% in 2021-22.

Between 2020-21 and 2021-22, the category with the largest decrease was Other non-sexual violence, from 61.1% to 44.7%. A growing proportion of Other-Non sexual violence cases relate to cases of Threats and extortion, 90% of which we estimate to be cyber-crimes. This may have had an impact on the lowering clear up-rate. Murder and culpable homicide had the largest increase, from 98.4% to 113.5%.

Sexual crimes

The clear up rate for Sexual crimes decreased from 58.4% in 2020-21 to 53.5% in 2021-22. This is the lowest rate since 1976, the first year for which comparable clear up rates are available.

Between 2020-21 and 2021-22, most categories had a decrease in their clear up rates. Only Crimes associated with prostitution had an increase, from 60.7% to 66.3%. The clear up rate for Communicating indecently has remained stable, at 56.9%.

Crimes of dishonesty

The clear up rate for Crimes of dishonesty decreased from 37.9% in 2020-21 to 31.6% in 2021-22.

Between 2020-21 and 2021-22, clear up rates decreased for all categories. The category with the largest decrease was Theft of a motor vehicle, with the clear up rate falling from 51.5% to 41.2%.

Damage and reckless behaviour

The clear up rate for Damage and reckless behaviour decreased from 31.5% in 2020-21 to 28.8% in 2021-22. Damage and reckless behaviour consistently has the lowest clear up rate of the five crime groups. However, despite the decrease in the latest year, there have been increases since 2014-15. The rate for 2021-22 is the second highest over the past ten years.

Between 2020-21 and 2021-22, the largest decrease occurred in the clear up rate for the Reckless conduct category, from 63.1% to 48.8%.

Crimes against society

The clear up rate for Crimes against society decreased marginally from 92.2% in 2020-21 to 91.6% in 2021-22. Clear up rates for Crimes against society have always been the highest of all groups, as many of the contributing categories (though not all) relate to criminality for which someone is generally ‘caught in the act’ (for example Drugs – Possession). An example of where this is not the case would be the Weapons Possession (used) category, where earlier research[9] suggested the clear majority of crimes were recorded following a victim or witness report to the police.

There were consistent decreases in clear up rates for Crime against society between 2013-14 and 2018-19, followed by small increases over 2019-20 and 2020-21, before the latest year’s decrease.

Between 2020-21 and 2021-22, most categories have seen a decrease, with the largest one occurring for Other crimes against society, from 95.6% to 75.1%. Drugs – Supply saw an increase in clear up rates, from 82.9% to 89.4%, whilst there was little change for Drugs – Possession (moving from 94.5% to 94.6%).



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