Recorded Crime in Scotland: December 2020

Official Statistics on crimes and offences recorded by the police in Scotland for December 2020.

Main findings

Crimes recorded by the police

In December 2020, the police recorded 18,229 crimes. This is 5% lower (or 980 crimes) than the 19,209 crimes recorded in the same month of 2019. There were variations in the year-on-year trends between different crime types. (Table 1, Chart 1).

Between December 2019 and December 2020:

  • Non-sexual crimes of violence were 3% lower (or 25 crimes), decreasing from 723 to 698. The most marked decrease was in Attempted murder and serious assault, which decreased by 75 crimes (22%), from 335 to 260. Crimes recorded under the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 decreased by 6 crimes (4%), from 134 to 128. Other violence increased by 51 crimes (41%), from 125 to 176.
  • Sexual crimes were 9% lower (a decrease of 83 crimes), decreasing from 968 to 885 crimes. The main contributor to this decrease by volume was Sexual assault, which decreased by 18% (or 63 crimes), from 341 to 278.
  • Crimes of dishonesty were 9% lower (or 735 crimes), reducing from 8,502 to 7,767 crimes. All categories experienced a decrease with the exception of Fraud (which increased by 65%, from 905 to 1,497 crimes). The Changes in levels of recorded fraud section below provides users with further background on what may be contributing to this change. The overall decrease in Crimes of dishonesty was driven by decreases in Shoplifting (which decreased by 23% from 2,377 to 1,829 crimes), Other theft (which decreased by 16% from 3,090 to 2,591 crimes) and Housebreaking (which decreased by 15% from 1,019 to 862 crimes).
  • Fire-raising, vandalism etc. decreased by 8%, from 3,930 to 3,605 crimes. Within this, crimes of Fire-raising decreased by 17% from 217 to 181 crimes, and Vandalism etc. decreased by 8% from 3,713 crimes to 3,424 crimes.
  • Other crimes were 4% higher (or 188 crimes), increasing from 5,086 to 5,274 crimes. The main contributor to this increase by volume was Crimes against public justice (which rose by 12% or 200 crimes).
Chart 1. Crimes and offences recorded by the police, by crime group, December 2020 compared with December 2019

Bar chart showing the number of crimes and offences recorded by group, comparing December 2020 with December 2019.

Offences recorded by the police

In December 2020, the police recorded 18,374 offences. This is 11% lower (or 2,223 offences) than the 20,597 offences recorded in the same month in 2019. There was a 14% decrease in Miscellaneous offences, and a 7% decrease in Motor vehicle offences, as detailed below (Table 2).

Between December 2019 and December 2020:

  • Miscellaneous offences decreased by 14% (or 1,556 offences), from 10,938 to 9,382. All categories experienced a decrease with the exception of Other miscellaneous offences (which increased 13% or 139 offences). The most prominent decreases were in Common assault (which decreased by 19% from 5,175 to 4,185 offences), Breach of the peace etc. which decreased by 12% (from 4,197 to 3,703) and Urinating etc., which decreased by 83% (from 222 to 37).
  • Motor vehicle offences were 7% lower (or 667 offences), decreasing from 9,659 to 8,992. The main contributor to this decrease was Other motor vehicle offences, which fell by 16% (or 341 offences).

Local Authorities

Compared to December 2019, a decrease in recorded crime was seen in 18 (56%) out of 32 local authorities, with 14 showing an increase (Table 3). The largest increase was seen in the Shetland Islands (up 63%) and the largest decrease was in Na h-Eileanan Siar (down 35%). It should be noted that the relatively small number of crimes recorded in some of Scotland's local authorities can fluctuate over time - leading to large percentage changes. This is particularly relevant in this release, where monthly data is being presented rather than the annual information provided in the National Statistics.

The biggest contributors by volume to the overall decrease in crimes recorded by the police were Glasgow City (down 17% or 568 crimes), Edinburgh City (down 13% or 295 crimes) and South Ayrshire (down 24% or 94 crimes).

April to December 2020 compared with April to December 2019

Overall, in April to December 2020 the police recorded 176,562 crimes, a reduction of 6% (or 10,951 crimes) compared to the same period in 2019 (187,513 crimes) (Table 4). The biggest drivers of this reduction by volume were Shoplifting (down 32% or 7,590 crimes), Other theft (down 18% or 5,753), and Vandalism etc. (down 11% or 3,830 crimes). Fraud saw the biggest increase over this period, growing by 64% (or 5,028 crimes) from 7,879 to 12,907 crimes. Crimes against public justice were also higher, increasing by 32% (or 4,648 crimes) from 14,720 to 19,368.

Over the same period, the number of offences recorded by the police was 6% lower (or 12,072 offences), with Miscellaneous offences decreasing by 3% (or 3,106 offences) and Motor vehicle offences falling by 10% (or 8,966 offences) (Table 5).



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