Changes in levels of recorded fraud
Fraud was almost unchanged in December 2021 compared to December 2020 with only three fewer crimes, but 65% (or 589 crimes) higher than in December 2019. The Recorded Crime National Statistics have highlighted an increasing trend in recorded fraud over a number of years (up 117% between 2014-15 and 2020-21). Fraud increased by 26% between 2019-20 and 2020-21 with the circumstances of the pandemic very likely to be playing a significant role, including behavioural changes such as increased online shopping. Research published within the recent Recorded Crime in Scotland bulletin estimated that 57% of fraud crimes recorded in 2020-21 were cyber-crimes, compared to 29% in 2019-20.
Some care is advised before attributing all of the recent changes to the specific circumstances of the COVID-related lockdown. This is because a procedural change was made in April 2020 to how some crimes of fraud (and other types of crime which could involve a victim and a perpetrator in different physical locations) are recorded. This has had an impact when comparing figures for fraud which fall before and after the April 2020 change.
Prior to the 1st April 2020, these statistics excluded any crime with a victim in Scotland and a perpetrator who was confirmed by the police to be outside the United Kingdom when the crime took place. Following a recommendation by Her Majesty's Chief Inspectorate for Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) to review recording practice in this area, the Scottish Crime Recording Board approved a change so that from the 1st April these crimes are now included in the statistics. It should be noted that those cases with only a suspicion or insufficient evidence to confirm that the perpetrator was outside the UK were always included.
The research published in the Recorded Crime in Scotland bulletin estimated the procedural change led to 900 additional crimes of fraud being recorded in 2020-21.
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