Information

Recorded crime in Scotland: attempted murder and serious assault, 2008-2009 and 2017-2018

Information on crimes of attempted murder and serious assault recorded by the police in 2008 to 2009 and 2017 to 2018.

This document is part of a collection


4. Findings

As noted earlier, this report presents information on a sample of attempted murder and serious assault crimes recorded by the police. It does not provide information on the characteristics of all crimes of attempted murder and serious assault committed in society, since not all of these crimes are reported to the police.

Findings are presented for the two years sampled by the research; 2008-09 and 2017-18. Characteristics of attempted murder and serious assault crimes are shown as both the proportion of all attempted murder and serious assault recorded by the police (for example the percentage that includes a weapon) and what this suggests the volume of attempted murder and serious assault could be for that characteristic (again as an example, the estimated number of attempted murder and serious assault crimes that include a weapon).

When interpreting the report’s findings, it is important that both these measures (proportion of all attempted murder and serious assault and suggested volume of attempted murder and serious assault) are considered in tandem - as the number of attempted murder and serious assault crimes recorded by the police in Scotland fell by more than a third between 2008-09 and 2017-18 (from 6,472 to 4,189). As such there are some characteristics which were more prevalent in police recorded attempted murder and serious assault during 2017-18 than 2008-09 (i.e. they made up a greater proportion of attempted murder and serious assault crimes than 10 years ago), however they are still estimated to be no more or possibly even less voluminous than in 2008-09, as the total volume of attempted murder and serious assault has fallen significantly.

Where relevant we have drawn readers’ attention to where there has been notable change in a particular characteristic of police recorded attempted murder and serious assault between 2008-09 and 2017-18.

Throughout the rest of this report ‘Attempted murder and serious assault’ will be referred to as ‘serious assault’. This is because serious assault makes up the vast majority of the ‘Attempted murder and serious assault’ category with attempted murder making up only a small proportion (11% in 2008-09 and 6% in 2017-18) of cases.

Where does attempted murder and serious assault occur?

Geographic location

In 2008-09, nearly two-thirds (64%) of serious assaults were committed in the west of Scotland[6][7], with the other 36% occuring elsewhere in the country. There was a marked change in this position by 2017-18, whereby one half (50%) of serious assaults were committed in the west of Scotland and the other half (50%) occured elsewhere (map of Scottish local authorities in Annex). This shift in the balance of serious assault across Scotland was due to a relatively larger fall in serious assault committed in the west of Scotland, compared to those that happened outwith this area.

Changes in the prevalance of serious assault across Scotland can be further demonstrated using population rates. In 2008-09, the rate of serious assault per 10,000 population in the west of Scotland was significantly higher than elsewhere in the country, with 18.5 serious assaults per 10,000 population in the west compared to 7.9 serious assaults per 10,000 population elsewhere (Table 1). By 2017-18, the rate in the west of Scotland had halved (fallen by 50%) to 9.2 serious assaults per 10,000 population. The rate for elsewhere in the country also fell between 2008-09 and 2017-18 - but not to the same extent, falling by 15% from 7.9 serious assaults per 10,000 population in 2008-09 to 6.7 serious assaults per 10,000 population in 2017-18.

As outlined above, serious assault in the west of Scotland fell at a much faster rate than for serious assault that occurred outwith this area, albeit rates remain slightly higher in the west of Scotland than elsewhere in the country. This reduction in the volume of serious assault in the west of Scotland accounted for the vast majority (89%) of the total fall in serious assault across Scotland since 2008-09 (with serious assault down 2,023 cases in the west of Scotland between 2008-09 and 2017-18, compared to a reduction of 260 for elsewhere in the country).

Over the ten year period, the rate of serious assault fell in every local authority in the west, with large reductions seen in the local authorities that started with the highest rates (Glasgow City, Inverclyde and Renfrewshire). Glasgow City still remains the local authority with the highest rate, however this has more than halved (down 55%) from 32.5 serious assaults per 10,000 population in 2008-09 to 14.7 serious assaults per 10,000 population in 2017-18.

Elsewhere in the country, reductions were seen in almost every local authority over the ten year period. The exceptions were Dumfries and Galloway (which saw no change) and East Lothian and Midlothian which saw small increases (up 8% and 5% respectively).

Table 1. Crimes of Attempted Murder and Serious Assault Recorded by the Police, by Local Authority, 2008-09 and 2017-18

Area

Number of crimes

Crimes per 10,000 Population

2008-09

2017-18

2008-09

2017-18

Percentage change

West of Scotland

4,116

2,093

18.5

9.2

-50%

Argyll and Bute

55

44

6.1

5.1

-17%

East Ayrshire

145

80

11.9

6.6

-45%

East Dunbartonshire

86

50

8.2

4.6

-44%

East Renfrewshire

51

20

5.7

2.1

-63%

Glasgow City

1,872

914

32.5

14.7

-55%

Inverclyde

180

82

22.0

10.4

-53%

North Ayrshire

217

107

15.7

7.9

-50%

North Lanarkshire

452

299

13.6

8.8

-35%

Renfrewshire

367

156

21.3

8.8

-59%

South Ayrshire

130

57

11.5

5.1

-56%

South Lanarkshire

386

210

12.4

6.6

-47%

West Dunbartonshire

175

74

19.2

8.3

-57%

Elsewhere

2,356

2,096

7.9

6.7

-15%

Aberdeen City

254

210

11.9

9.2

-23%

Aberdeenshire

104

93

4.2

3.6

-16%

Angus

64

62

5.6

5.3

-5%

City of Edinburgh

445

385

9.7

7.5

-23%

Clackmannanshire

53

46

10.4

8.9

-14%

Dumfries and Galloway

98

97

6.5

6.5

0%

Dundee City

154

147

10.7

9.9

-7%

East Lothian

43

50

4.4

4.8

8%

Falkirk

133

126

8.7

7.9

-9%

Fife

293

288

8.1

7.8

-5%

Highland

220

151

9.7

6.4

-34%

Midlothian

44

51

5.4

5.7

5%

Moray

75

60

8.1

6.3

-22%

Na h-Eileanan Siar

17

6

6.2

2.2

-64%

Orkney Islands

11

11

5.3

5.0

-6%

Perth and Kinross

85

80

5.9

5.3

-11%

Scottish Borders

55

54

4.9

4.7

-3%

Shetland Islands

7

6

3.1

2.6

-17%

Stirling

64

53

7.2

5.6

-22%

West Lothian

137

120

8.0

6.6

-17%

Scotland

6,472

4,189

12.4

7.7

-38%

Sources: Recorded Crime in Scotland, 2008-09 and 2017-18 (Scottish Government) and Mid-Year Population Estimates, 2008 & 2017 (National Records of Scotland)

Physical location

Almost half of serious assault (47%) occurred in the street or open space in 2017-18 (Table 5). Just over a third (36%) occurred in a dwelling[8][9], with a night time economy, retail or other business setting accounting for the remaining 17% of serious assault. These proportions have not changed between 2008-09 and 2017-18.

Serious assaults in the street or open space are estimated to have fallen by 1,130 between 2008-09 and 2017-18 (from 3,080 to 1,950). At the same time the volume of serious assaults occurring in a dwelling is estimated to have fallen by 750 (from 2,260 to 1,510). Serious assaults occurring in a night time economy, retail or other business setting are estimated to have fallen by 390 (from 1,110 to 720).

This suggests that around half of the total fall in police recorded serious assault between 2008-09 and 2017-18 (down 2,283) has come from a fall in street or open space-based serious assaults. However, serious assaults in dwellings, and night time economy, retail or other business settings have also fallen by similar amounts proportionally.

The location of serious assault was also split into a public or private space. Serious assaults within a person’s property (i.e. behind a front-door) have been defined in the research as ‘private space’ serious assault, with all other settings (including the communal areas of a residential building) defined as ‘public space’ serious assault.

More than two-thirds of serious assault (70%) occurred in a public space in 2017-18, with the remaining 30% taking place in a private space. This split has not changed significantly since 2008-09.

Serious assault in a public space is estimated to have fallen by 1,420 between 2008-09 and 2017-18 (from 4,330 to 2,910). At the same time the volume of serious assault estimated to have occurred in a private space fell by 840 from 2,120 to 1,280.

Who are the victims of attempted murder and serious assault?

Most serious assault (80%) had a male victim in 2017-18 (Table 6). This has fallen from 87% in 2008-09. At the same time the proportion of serious assault with a female victim increased from 13% to 20%, though this represented little change in the estimated volume of cases (up 30 from 820 to 850).

Serious assault with a male victim is estimated to have fallen by 2,310 between 2008-09 and 2017-18, from 5,650 to 3,340. This suggests that all of the total fall in police recorded serious assault between 2008-09 and 2017-18 (down 2,283) has come from a fall in serious assault with a male victim.

Victims of serious assault in 2017-18 were older than victims from 2008-09, with the median age of a serious assault victim increasing from 27 years old to 31 years old (Table 7).

Further analysis can be undertaken using broader categories to group victims by age, with two of these (ages 20 to 29 years old and 50 years and above) showing significant change since 2008-09. The proportion of serious assault with a victim aged between 20 and 29 years old fell from 38% in 2008-09 to 29% in 2017-18. At the same time the proportion of serious assault with a victim aged 50 years and above increased from 6% to 15%. The proportion of victims who are in the other age categories - under 13, teenagers (i.e. 13 to 19 years old), 30 to 39 years old, and 40 to 49 years old have not changed significantly.

The volume of serious assault experienced by age groups from 13 to 49 years old is estimated to have fallen between 2008-09 and 2017-18. This fall was largest for those aged 20 to 29 years old (down by 1,260 from 2,470 to 1,210). The volume of serious assault with a teenage victim is estimated to have fallen by 460 (from 1,060 to 600), the volume with a victim aged between 30 and 39 years old has fallen by 500 (from 1,530 to 1,030) and the volume with a victim aged between 40 and 49 years old has fallen by 290 (from 870 to 580). The volume of serious assault with a victim aged under 13 years old has not changed significantly, whilst the volume of serious assaults with a victim aged 50 and above is estimated to have increased by 210 (from 400 to 610).

This suggests that the fall in serious assaults with a victim aged 20 to 29 years old, has contributed significantly (by more than half) to the reduction in total recorded serious assaults between 2008-09 and 2017-18.

Table 2 below shows the age of serious assault victims compared to Scotland’s population as a whole. The estimated number of victims for each age group reflects the number of times a victim of that age was identified in the sample, grossed up to the total number of serious assaults recorded by the police. This analysis should be seen as providing a broad indication of serious assault victimisation by age, rather than an exact measure - as it is based on a sample of serious assaults rather than all serious assaults recorded by the police. Furthermore it does not account for any repeat victimisation that may be faced by certain individuals, where they have been a victim of multiple serious assaults during the reporting year.

The table suggests that there were an estimated 12.4 victims of police recorded serious assault per 10,000 population in 2008-09. This figure was highest for people aged 20 to 29 years old, at 36.2 victims per 10,000 population. This was followed by teenagers and those aged between 30 and 39 years old, at 23.4 and 22.6 victims per 10,000 population, respectively. Those aged 40 to 49 years old had a slightly lower than average victimisation rate (10.8 victims per 10,000 population), whilst those aged under 13 years old and 50 years and above had a far lower than average victimisation rate (1.1 and 2.2 victims per 10,000 population respectively).

The estimated number of serious assault victims per 10,000 population had fallen to 7.7 by 2017-18. The rate of serious assault victimisation has decreased for all age groups between 13 and 49 years old. This fall has been particularly large for those aged 20 to 29 years old (down from 36.2 victims per 10,000 population in 2008-09 to 16.4 victims per 10,000 population in 2017-18), whilst the victimisation rate for teenagers fell from 23.4 to 15.1 victims per 10,000 population, and from 22.6 to 14.8 victims per 10,000 population for those aged 30 to 39 years old. Whereas victimisation rates were much higher in 2008-09 for those aged 20 to 29 years old compared to any other group, by 2017-18 the rates were very similar across teenagers, 20 to 29 year olds and 30-39 year olds.

Between 2008-09 and 2017-18, the victimisation rate for those aged 40 to 49 years old fell from 10.8 victims per 10,000 population to 8.1 victims per 10,000 population. The victimisation rate for those aged 50 and above increased from 2.2 victims per 10,000 population to 2.9 victims per 10,000 population albeit remains significantly lower than every other age group except those aged under 13. Serious assault with a victim aged under 13 years is very rare with 1.5 victims per 10,000 population in 2017-18.

Table 2. Age of Attempted Murder and Serious Assault Victims compared to population, 2008-09 and 2017-18

Age Group

2008-09

2017-18

Estimated Number of Victims

Victims per 10,000 Population

Estimated Number of Victims

Victims per 10,000 Population

Under 13 years

80

1.1

110

1.5

Aged 13 to 19 years

1,060

23.4

600

15.1

Aged 20 to 29 years

2,470

36.2

1,210

16.4

Aged 30 to 39 years

1,530

22.6

1,030

14.8

Aged 40 to 49 years

870

10.8

580

8.1

Aged 50 and above

400

2.2

610

2.9

All Ages

6,472

12.4

4,189

7.7

Source: Mid-Year Population Estimates, 2008 & 2017 (National Records of Scotland)[10]

Victims of serious assault are more likely to live in areas of higher deprivation, with 42% of serious assault victims in 2017-18 living in Scotland’s 20% most deprived areas (Table 8). 77% of serious assault victims in 2017-18 lived in urban areas, compared to the 70% of Scotland’s population that lives in those areas. Relatively fewer victims of serious assault lived in a rural or small town setting (at least 17% in 2017-18, compared to the 30% of Scotland’s population that lives in those areas).

Who are the perpetrators of attempted murder and serious assault?

A crime of serious assault can be committed by a single perpetrator or multiple perpetrators (i.e. at least two). The proportion of serious assault with multiple perpetrators has fallen from 27% in 2008-09 to 18% in 2017-18 (Table 9). Over the same time, the proportion with a single perpetrator increased from 65% to 78%, whilst the proportion with an unknown number of perpetrators fell from 7% in 2008-09 to 4% in 2017-18.

Most serious assaults (84%) had a male or all male group of perpetrators in 2017-18 (Table 10). Only 10% of serious assault in 2017-18 had a female or all female group of perpetrators, whilst the remaining 6% had a mixed gender group or a perpetrator of unknown gender. These proportions have not changed significantly since 2008-09.

Serious assault with a male or all male group of perpetrators is estimated to have fallen by 1,810 between 2008-09 and 2017-18, from 5,330 to 3,520. This fall accounts for around 80% of the total reduction in police recorded serious assault between those two years.

Like the victims of serious assault, perpetrators of serious assault were also older in 2017-18 than perpetrators from 2008-09 - with the median age of a serious assault perpetrator increasing from 23 years old to 27 years old (Table 11).

In 2017-18, more than a third (37%) of serious assaults involved at least one perpetrator aged between 20 and 29 years old. More than a quarter (27%) involved at least one perpetrator aged 30 to 39 years old (which was higher than the 19% in 2008-09), and 17% involved at least one teenage perpetrator (aged between 13 and 19 years old). 10% involved at least one perpetrator aged 40 to 49 years old, 7% involved at least one perpetrator aged 50 or older, and only 1% involved at least one perpetrator under 13 years old.

Serious assault that involved at least one perpetrator aged 20 to 29 years old is estimated to have fallen by 790, from 2,330 in 2008-09 to 1,540 by 2017-18. A similar fall was estimated in the volume of serious assault involving at least one teenage perpetrator (from 1,440 to 710). There was little estimated change in the volumes of serious assault for the other age groups. It should be noted that a single crime of serious assault will appear more than once in the above estimates if it includes perpetrators from more than one age group (for example a victim is seriously assaulted simultaneously by two perpetrators aged 17 and 21 years old).

This suggests that the fall in serious assault including at least one teenage perpetrator or at least one perpetrator aged 20 to 29 years old, has driven the reduction in total recorded serious assault between 2008-09 and 2017-18.

It should be noted that the proportion of serious assaults where the age of the perpetrator was unknown fell significantly over the same period, though this is unlikely to have had a major impact on the changes outlined above (from 18% in 2008-09 to 9% in 2017-18).

Table 3 below shows the age of serious assault perpetrators compared to Scotland’s population as a whole. The estimated number of perpetrators for each age group reflects the number of times a perpetrator of that age was identified in the sample, grossed up to the total number of serious assaults recorded by the police. Those serious assaults that involved more than one perpetrator with a known age are included multiple times in the table. This analysis should be seen as providing a broad indication of offending by age, rather than an exact measure - as it is based on a sample of serious assaults rather than all serious assaults recorded by the police. Furthermore it does not account for any repeat offending that may have been carried out by certain individuals, where they have committed multiple serious assaults in a reporting year nor does it include any perpetrator where no age or estimated age was available from the crime record.

The table suggests that there were an estimated 17.7 perpetrators of police recorded serious assault per 10,000 population in 2008-09. This figure was far higher for teenagers and people aged 20 to 29 years old, at 50.7 and 41.3 victims per 10,000 population respectively. Those aged 30 to 39 years old had a slightly higher than average rate (18.4 perpetrators per 10,000 population), whilst those aged 40 to 49 years old had a lower than average rate (6.7 perpetrators per 10,000 population). The rate for those aged under 13 years and 50 years and above was very low (1.0 and 1.4 perpetrators per 10,000 population respectively).

The estimated number of serious assault perpetrators per 10,000 population had fallen to 9.8 by 2017-18. The rate for teenagers and those aged 20 to 29 years old fell substantially to 23.6 and 23.9 perpetrators per 10,000 population (down from 50.7 and 41.3 perpetrators per 10,000 population). In contrast there was very little estimated change in the rate of offending for all other age groups. Despite this change, offending rates still remain highest for teenagers and those aged 20 to 29 years old.

Table 3. Age of Attempted Murder and Serious Assault Perpetrators compared to population, 2008-09 and 2017-18

Age Group

2008-09

2017-18

Estimated Number of Perpetrators

Perpetrators per 10,000 Population

Estimated Number of Perpetrators

Perpetrators per 10,000 Population

Under 13 years

70

1.0

60

0.8

Aged 13 to 19 years

2,290

50.7

940

23.6

Aged 20 to 29 years

2,820

41.3

1,760

23.9

Aged 30 to 39 years

1,250

18.4

1,160

16.8

Aged 40 to 49 years

540

6.7

460

6.4

Aged 50 and above

260

1.4

280

1.3

Unknown

1,950

n/a

640

n/a

All Ages

9,190

17.7

5,307

9.8

Source: Mid-year Population Estimates, 2008 & 2017 (National Records of Scotland)[11]

Relationship between victims and perpetrators of attempted murder and serious assault

More than two-thirds (70%) of serious assault had both a male victim and a male or all-male group of perpetrators in 2017-18 (Table 12).

Serious assault that involved all male victims and perpetrators is estimated to have fallen by 1,860 between 2008-09 and 2017-18 (from 4,790 to 2,930). This accounts for a substantial proportion (around 80%) of the total fall in police recorded serious assault during this time.

Between 2008-09 and 2017-18, the proportion of serious assault with a female victim and a male or all-male group of perpetrators increased from 8% to 14%. However, the volume of these cases did not change significantly.

It was not possible to ascertain the relationship between the victim and perpetrator(s) in a number of cases (either because the perpetrator was not identified or the relationship was not noted). The proportion of serious assaults where the relationship between the victim and perpetrator(s) was unknown has fallen from 21% in 2008-09 to 12% in 2017-18. In nearly half (44%) of those cases with an unknown relationship in 2017-18, the crime record notes at least some unwillingness by the victim to engage with police investigations into the incident. This will have an impact on the proportions noted below as they will to some extent underestimate the true position (and more so for 2008-09 as it has a greater proportion of cases with unknown relationship). As such, year to year changes should be treated with a degree of caution.

At least two-thirds (66%) of serious assaults in 2017-18 were committed by someone known to the victim (Table 13). This has increased from 52% of serious assault in 2008-09, though as noted above at least part of this could be due to a reduction in cases where the relationship between the victim and perpetrator(s) was unknown.

Looking at relationship in more detail, in 2017-18 half (50%) of serious assaults were committed by an acquaintance of the victim. Around a fifth (21%) were committed by a stranger and 17% were committed by a partner/ex-partner or relative of the victim.

These proportions vary significantly by the victim’s gender. Male victims of serious assault are most often attacked by acquaintances or strangers (55% and 23% respectively of serious assault with a male victim) and much less likely to be attacked by a partner/ex-partner or relative (8%). In contrast, female victims (whilst there are far fewer of them than males), are more likely to be attacked by a partner/ex-partner or relative (52% of serious assault with a female victim), compared to an acquaintance (34%). It is rarer for a female to be seriously assaulted by a stranger (12% of cases).

The breakdown of assault by a partner/ex-partner or relative also varies by victim gender. More than two-thirds (69% in 2017-18) of serious assaults committed by a partner/ex-partner or relative of the victim were committed by a partner/ex-partner, which split into 43% for male victims and 84% for female victims.

The largest drop in terms of volume is estimated to have been from the reduction in serious assault where the relationship was unknown, falling by 890 from 1,390 in 2008-09 to 500 in 2017-18. Over the same period, the number of serious assaults committed by a stranger is estimated to have fallen by 770 (from 1,640 to 870) and the number committed by an acquaintance is estimated to have fallen by 600 (from 2,710 to 2,110). The number of serious assaults committed by a partner/ex-partner or relative of the victim has not changed significantly.

Other characteristics of attempted murder and serious assault

A little over half of serious assault (55%) involved the use of a weapon in 2017-18 (Table 14). This has fallen from 63% of serious assault in 2008-09. As such the corresponding proportion of serious assault which does not involve the use of a weapon has increased from 37% in 2008-09 to 45% in 2017-18.

A quarter of serious assault (25%) involved the use of a knife or other bladed/pointed article in 2017-18, and 30% involved the use of another form of weapon. These proportions by type of weapon have not changed significantly since 2008-09.

Items that may be associated with the consumption of alcohol (for example glasses and bottles) accounted for 10% of all serious assault in 2017-18, whilst industrial or household tools (for example a hammer) and firearms/imitation firearms accounted for 3% and less than 1% of serious assault respectively. None of the crimes sampled from 2008-09 or 2017-18 involved the perpetrator using a corrosive substance.

Serious assault that involved a weapon is estimated to have fallen by 1,820 between 2008-09 and 2017-18 (from 4,110 to 2,290). A smaller reduction was seen in serious assault that did not involve a weapon, where the estimated volume fell by 470 (from 2,370 to 1,900). This suggests that the fall in serious assault involving a weapon has had a bigger impact on the total reduction in crimes of serious assault, than those where no weapon was used.

In 2017-18, the most common type of injuries sustained by victims were cuts or permanent disfigurement (not caused by a sharp implement) (42%), followed by broken bones or fractures (30%) (Table 15). Just under a quarter of reported injuries (24%) were caused by a sharp-item (stab/slash wounds), while a small proportion of serious assault (4%) resulted in minor or no injury to the victim. This can be where a crime of attempted murder didn’t involve the victim sustaining a serious injury, or in a handful of cases where the crime would have been better classified as something other than a serious assault. Where more than one physical injury was sustained the most serious injury was used to classify the case.

The largest decrease in estimated volume of serious assault was where the victim sustained sharp-item related injuries (a fall of 900 from 1,890 to 990). The drop in sharp-item related injuries reflects the overall reduction in the estimated number of serious assault where a knife or bladed/pointed article was used. The number of serious assaults where the victim sustained cuts or permanent disfigurement (not from a sharp implement) also fell (from 2,210 in 2008-09 to 1,760 in 2017-18).

The study identified that nearly every serious assault that came to the attention of the police also involved the NHS in some way (e.g. the victim being treated by the Scottish Ambulance Service and/or being taken to a hospital). This figure was 96% in 2017-18 (and 95% in 2008-09). It is very likely that there are some incidents which the NHS have some involvement in but do not come to the attention of the police.

With regards to the use of weapons, there are some significant differences in the characteristics of serious assault in the west of Scotland[12][13] compared to elsewhere in the country. A weapon was used in nearly two-thirds (64%) of serious assault in the west of Scotland in 2017-18, compared to 46% of serious assault elsewhere. Just over one third (36%) of serious assault in the west of Scotland did not involve the use of a weapon, compared to more than half (54%) in the rest of the country (Table 16).

This difference is due to a higher proportion of serious assault in the west of Scotland involving the use of a knife or other bladed/pointed article. In 2017-18, one third (33%) of serious assault in the west of Scotland involved the use of a knife or other bladed/pointed article, compared to 16% of serious assault in the rest of the country. In contrast, there was little difference in the use of other weapon types, with these accounting for 30% of serious assaults committed in both the west of Scotland and elsewhere in the country.

The volume of serious assault in the west of Scotland which involved the use of a knife or other bladed/pointed article is estimated to have fallen by 840 (from 1,540 in 2008-09 and 700 in 2017-18). Similarly, the volume of serious assault in the west of Scotland which involved the use of another type of weapon is estimated to have fallen by 800 (from 1,430 in 2008-09 and 630 in 2017-18). Collectively this accounts for nearly three-quarters (72%) of the total fall in serious assault, across Scotland, between 2008-09 and 2017-18.

Just under half (47%) of serious assault in 2017-18 was reported by a witness and one third (34%) was reported by the victim or on behalf of the victim (for example a guardian or someone the victim asked to contact the police) (Table 17). Reports by another emergency service (most often the Scottish Ambulance Service) accounted for 14% of serious assault, whilst very few cases come to the police’s attention during observations whilst on patrol or as a result of investigating another crime, offence or incident (4% of all serious assault in 2017-18).

A number of records made reference to the consumption of alcohol and/or drugs, or noted this as a motivating factor in relation to the crime. This could be in reference to the perpetrator(s), the victim(s) or both. This does not necessarily mean that it was a causal factor in all of these crimes. At the same time alcohol or drugs may have been consumed prior to some of these crimes taking place, or been a motivating factor, but not referenced in the crime record.

In 2017-18, nearly two-thirds (63%) of serious assault crime records made reference to the consumption of alcohol. One in ten serious assaults (10%) made reference to drugs.

Nearly all records include information on the time serious assaults occur (time of day and day of week). In 2017-18, three out of every five (59%) serious assaults (where day and time was known) occurred at the weekend (i.e. between 6pm on Friday night and midnight on Sunday).

What types of attempted murder and serious assault fell the most between 2008-09 and 2017-18?

Some of the measures discussed above can be combined - to present a picture of how likely it is that a police recorded serious assault will comprise of a certain scenario. This approach has been used to describe the different types of serious assault faced by the police in Scotland, both in 2008-09 and 2017-18. From this, an estimate can then be made of which types of serious assault have contributed the most to the total fall in these crimes over the past ten years.

Four variables (or characteristics) have been combined to produce sixteen different scenarios for a serious assault. These are (i) the victim’s gender, (ii) the victim’s age, (iii) where the serious assault took place and (iv) whether the perpetrator used a weapon (Table 18).

This analysis suggests that there are five different scenarios for serious assault that collectively account for all of the total fall in serious assault between 2008-09 and 2017-18. These five scenarios all involve serious assault with a male victim, and four involve the use of a weapon.

Table 4 below provides further information on the five scenarios.

The first scenario was the most common type of serious assault in both 2008-09 and 2017-18, where the serious assault had a male victim under 30 years old, took place in a public space and involved the use of a weapon. This scenario accounted for 18% of serious assault in 2017-18. These types of serious assault are estimated to have fallen by 710 (from 1,450 to 740), which would account for nearly a third (31%) of the total fall in recorded serious assault between the two years sampled. Further analysis shows that nearly all of this fall (98%) is due to a drop in these types of serious assault in the west of Scotland.

The second scenario was the second most common type of serious assault in 2008-09 but the fourth most common by 2017-18. This was where the serious assault had a male victim under 30 years old, took place in a public space and did not involve the use of a weapon. This accounted for 12% of serious assault in 2017-18, with the volume of these cases estimated to have dropped by 530 since 2008-09 (from 1,040 to 510). This would account for nearly a quarter (23%) of the total fall in recorded serious assault between the two years sampled. Just over half (56%) of this fall is due to a drop in the west of Scotland.

This suggests that scenarios one and two combined (i.e. serious assaults with a male victim under 30 years old which took place in a public space) collectively account for more than half (54%) of the total fall in recorded serious assault.

The third scenario involved serious assault with a male victim under 30, taking place in a private space, and involving the use of a weapon. This accounted for 5% of serious assault in 2017-18, with the volume of these cases estimated to have dropped by 370 since 2008-09 (from 600 to 230). This is estimated to account for a further 16% of the total fall in recorded serious assault between the two years sampled. Nearly all of this fall (94%) is due to a drop in the west of Scotland.

The fourth scenario involved serious assault with a male victim aged 30 or above, taking place in a public space, and involving the use of a weapon. This accounted for 15% of serious assault in 2017-18, with the volume of these cases estimated to have dropped by 330 since 2008-09 (from 950 to 620). This would account for 14% of the total fall in recorded serious assault between the two years sampled. More than two-thirds of this fall (69%) is due to a drop in the west of Scotland.

The fifth scenario involved serious assault with a male victim aged 30 or above, taking place in a private space, and involving the use of a weapon. This accounted for 8% of serious assault in 2017-18, with the volume of these cases estimated to have dropped by 350 since 2008-09 (from 690 to 340). This would account for 15% of the total fall in recorded serious assault between the two years sampled. Around three-quarters of this fall (76%) is due to a drop in the west of Scotland.

Taken as a whole, the remaining eleven scenarios for serious assault had very little impact on the total reduction in these crimes between 2008-09 and 2017-18. This includes all scenarios with a female victim and all but one of the scenarios which did not involve the use of the weapon.

There was also limited change in the estimated volume of serious assault recorded by the police for each of the remaining eleven scenarios between 2008-09 and 2017-18.

Looking further at the sixteen scenarios outlined above, those which involve serious assault with a male victim under 30 years old collectively accounted for 50% of all serious assault in 2008-09 and 37% in 2017-18. The volume of these cases is estimated to have dropped by 1,650 since 2008-09 (from 3,220 to 1,570). This would account for nearly three-quarters (72%) of the total fall in recorded serious assault between the two years sampled.

Table 4. Estimated Change in Volume of Attempted Murder and Serious Assault between 2008-09 and 2017-18, by Scenario

Scenario:

Serious assault characteristics:

Estimated change in volume between 2008-09 and 2017-18

Change as % of Total Fall

1. A male victim under 30 years old in a public space by someone who used a weapon

-710

31%

2. A male victim under 30 years old in a public space by someone who did not use a weapon

-530

23%

…a male victim under 30 years old in a public space (1 and 2 Combined)

-1,240

54%

3. A male victim under 30 years old in a private space by someone who used a weapon

-370

16%

4. A male victim aged 30 or above in a public space by someone who used a weapon

-330

14%

5. A male victim aged 30 or above in a private space by someone who used a weapon

-350

15%

Scenarios 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 combined

-2,290

100%

Change in serious assault between 2008-09 & 2017-18 (Recorded Crime National Statistics)

-2,283

Contact

Email: JusticeAnalysts@gov.scot

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