Information

Recorded Crime in Scotland: December 2021

A document outlining the crimes and offences recorded by the police in Scotland during the month of December 2021.

This document is part of a collection


Main findings

Crimes recorded by the police

In December 2021, the police recorded 16,823 crimes. This was 8% (or 1,406 crimes) lower than the 18,229 crimes recorded in the same month of 2020 (when pandemic restrictions were in place) and 12% lower than the 19,209 crimes recorded in the same month of 2019 (for which there was no pandemic or restrictions on movement). There were variations in the year-on-year trends between different crime types. However, with the exception of Non-sexual crimes of violence and Sexual crimes, all groups were lower than pre-pandemic levels (December 2019) (Table 1, Chart 1).

In December 2021:

  • Non-sexual crimes of violence were 5% (or 36 crimes) higher compared to December 2020 (increasing from 698 to 734 crimes), and 2% higher compared to December 2019 (increasing from 723 to 734 crimes). Within this, Attempted murder and serious assault increased by 10% compared to December 2020 (from 260 to 286 crimes), but decreased by 15% from December 2019 (from 335 to 286 crimes). Other violence increased by 27% compared to December 2020 (from 176 to 223 crimes) and increased by 78% from December 2019 (from 125 to 223 crimes). The increase in Other violence between December 2020 and December 2021 was due to a rise in Drugging (from 1 to 72 crimes). The rise in Drugging is likely due to cases of "spiking". A rise in Threats and extortion was also a factor in the increase in Other violence since December 2019, with the recently published National Statistics bulletin estimating that more than three-quarters (77%) of Threats and extortion recorded in 2020-21 were cyber-crimes. Crimes under the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 decreased by 17% compared to December 2020 (from 128 to 106 crimes), and were 21% lower than in December 2019 (decreasing from 134 to 106 crimes).
  • Sexual crimes were 22% (or 199 crimes) higher compared to December 2020, increasing from 885 to 1,084 crimes, and were 12% (or 116 crimes) higher than in December 2019 (increasing from 968 to 1,084 crimes). Sexual assault increased by 56% compared to December 2020 (from 278 to 433 crimes), and increased by 27% compared to December 2019 (increasing from 341 to 433 crimes). The rise in Sexual assault since 2019 and 2020 was primarily due to an increase in Sexual assault of females, including classifications for adults (aged 16 or older), older children (aged 13-15) and young children (under 13). Rape and attempted rape increased by 20% compared to December 2020 (from 142 to 171 crimes), but decreased by 2% compared to December 2019 (from 175 to 171 crimes).
  • Crimes of dishonesty were 1% (or 81 crimes) lower compared to December 2020, decreasing from 7,767 to 7,686 crimes. This was 10% lower than in December 2019 (decreasing from 8,502 to 7,686 crimes). Crimes of Fraud have been at increased levels throughout the pandemic. Despite there being three fewer crimes compared to December 2020 (down from 1,497 to 1,494 crimes), there was a 65% increase since December 2019 (from 905 to 1,494 crimes). The Changes in levels of recorded fraud section below provides users with further background on what may be contributing to this change. Other dishonesty has been the biggest contributor (by volume) to the decrease since 2020, having fallen by 29% compared to December 2020 (from 354 to 251 crimes), and was 33% lower when compared to December 2019.
  • Fire-raising, vandalism etc. was 11% (or 403 crimes) lower compared to December 2020, decreasing from 3,605 to 3,202 crimes, and was 19% lower than December 2019. Vandalism etc. has fallen 12% since December 2020 (decreasing from 3,424 to 3,027 crimes). This is 18% lower than December 2019 levels.
  • Other crimes were 22% (or 1,157 crimes) lower than in December 2020, decreasing from 5,274 to 4,117 crimes. This is also 19% lower than December 2019 (decreasing from 5,086 to 4,117 crimes). The main contributors to these decreases were Drugs (which fell by 33% compared to December 2020 and 32% compared to December 2019) and Crimes against public justice (which fell by 10% compared to December 2020 but were unchanged compared to December 2019).
Chart 1: Crimes and offences recorded by the police, by crime group, December 2019, 2020 and 2021
A bar chart showing the number of crimes and offences recorded by the police by crime group for December 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Note: each category shows columns from left to right for December 2019, 2020 and 2021

Offences recorded by the police

In December 2021, the police recorded 16,756 offences. This was 9% (or 1,618 offences) lower than the 18,374 offences recorded in the same month in 2020, and 19% lower than in December 2019 (decreasing from 20,597 to 16,756 offences). Miscellaneous offences decreased by 3% compared to December 2020, and by 17% compared to December 2019. Motor vehicle offences decreased by 15% compared to December 2020, and by 21% compared to December 2019, as detailed below (Table 2).

In December 2021:

  • Miscellaneous offences decreased by 3% (or 292 offences) compared to December 2020 (decreasing from 9,382 to 9,090 offences), and by 17% compared to December 2019 (decreasing from 10,938 to 9,090 offences). The largest decrease by volume since December 2020 was Breach of the peace etc., which fell by 10% from 3,703 to 3,322 offences, and were 21% lower than December 2019. Common assault increased by 4% from 4,185 to 4,361 offences, but was 16% lower than December 2019.
  • Motor vehicle offences were 15% (or 1,326 offences) lower compared to December 2020, decreasing from 8,992 to 7,666 offences, and were 21% lower than December 2019 levels. The main contributors to the decrease since December 2020 by volume were Unlawful use of vehicle (which decreased by 27%, from 3,602 to 2,620 offences) and Speeding (which decreased by 24%, from 1,561 to 1,194 offences), and this is 21% and 31% below December 2019 levels, respectively. Other motor vehicle offences increased by 4% compared to December 2020 (from 1,753 to 1,827 offences). All categories within Motor vehicle offences decreased when compared to December 2019.

Local Authorities

Compared to December 2020, a decrease in recorded crime was seen in 23 (72%) out of 32 local authorities, with 9 showing an increase (Table 3). The largest decrease was seen in the Shetland Islands (down 51%) and the largest increase was in the Orkney Islands, which had 28% more recorded crimes. 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 North Lanarkshire (down 24%, or 332 crimes), North Ayrshire (down 30%, or 165 crimes) and Fife (down 14%, or 162 crimes).

April to December 2019 and April to December 2020, compared with April to December 2021

Overall, in April to December 2021 the police recorded 169,705 crimes, a reduction of 4% (or 6,857 crimes) compared to the equivalent period of the previous year (176,562 crimes) (Table 4). This was 9% (or 17,808 crimes) lower than the same period in 2019 (187,513 crimes). The biggest drivers of the decrease by volume since 2020 were Drugs (down 23%, or 6,231 crimes), Crimes against public justice (down 10%, or 1,854 crimes) and Housebreaking (down 17%, or 1,365 crimes). When compared with 2019, the biggest drivers of the reduction by volume were Shoplifting (down 30%, or 7,027 crimes), Drugs (down 23%, or 6,253 crimes) and Other theft (down 17%, or 5,412 crimes). The largest increase since 2020 by volume was Sexual assault (up 30%, or 911 crimes). Compared with 2019, the largest increase by volume was Fraud (up 68%, or 5,396 crimes).

The number of offences recorded by the police in April to December 2021 was 2% (or 3,628 offences) lower than the equivalent period in 2020, with Miscellaneous offences decreasing by 1% (or 1,131 offences) and Motor vehicle offences decreasing by 3% (or 2,497 offences) (Table 5). Compared to 2019, offences decreased by 8% (or 15,700 offences), with Miscellaneous offences decreasing by 4% (or 4,237 offences) and Motor vehicle offences decreasing by 12% (or 11,463 offences).

Contact

Email: Justice_Analysts@gov.scot

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