Publication - Statistics

Recorded Crimes and Offences Involving Firearms, Scotland, 2012-13

Published: 20 Nov 2013
ISBN:
9781782569770

Statistical bulletin on crimes and offences involving firearms recorded by the police in Scotland in 2012-13

48 page PDF

490.7 kB

48 page PDF

490.7 kB

Contents
Recorded Crimes and Offences Involving Firearms, Scotland, 2012-13
3. Commentary

48 page PDF

490.7 kB

3. Commentary

To avoid unnecessary repetition of the term 'recorded crimes and offences' throughout this publication, reference will simply be made to 'offences'. This should be interpreted to mean 'recorded crimes and offences'. Any reference to the 'use and/or involvement' of firearms throughout this bulletin should also be interpreted to include the 'alleged use and/or involvement' of firearms.

Minor Firearms Act 1968 offences (mainly relating to the possession, handling and distribution of weapons and ammunition) are not included in the main tables of this bulletin. Totals for these offences are presented separately in Table 17. For further information please see Note 4.1.2.

The statistics on firearm offences are used to inform National Outcome 9 - 'we live our lives safe from crime, disorder and danger' as well as The Strategy for Justice in Scotland. These statistics are also used by a wide range of stakeholders to monitor trends, for policy research and development, and for research purposes. The 'Recorded Crimes and Offences Involving Firearms, Scotland' statistical bulletin forms part of a series of bulletins produced by the Scottish Government on the criminal justice system.

The Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 changed the policing landscape in Scotland, replacing the previous eight police forces, the Scottish Police Services Authority and the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency from 1 April 2013. The Police Service of Scotland is now responsible for operational policing in Scotland and will be held to account by the Scottish Police Authority. The statistics set out in this bulletin cover the year immediately preceding the establishment of the Police Service of Scotland.

3.1 Offences involving firearms (Tables 1, 1a and 2, and Charts 1 and 2)

  • In 2012-13, Scottish police forces recorded 365 offences in which a firearm was alleged to have been involved, a decrease of 32% from the number recorded in 2011-12 (535). This is the sixth year in a row that there has been a decrease in the total number of offences in which a firearm was alleged to have been involved. In addition, this is the lowest recorded total for the ten year period covered by this bulletin.
  • The offence categories which contained the highest number of offences in which a firearm was alleged to have been involved in 2012-13 were Reckless conduct with firearms and Common assault, each accounted for 19% of all recorded offences involving a firearm. This follows on from 2011-12 when Reckless conduct with firearms, constituted the highest proportion of recorded offences involving a firearm (22%). In 2011-12, offences of Common assault constituted the second highest proportion of recorded offences involving a firearm (19%).
  • The Breach of the peace etc. offence category constituted a further 18% of offences in which a firearm was alleged to have been involved in 2012-13. This is an increase of four percentage points compared to 2011-12.
  • In 2012-13, one Homicide involving a firearm was recorded, a decrease of four on the number that were recorded in 2011-12. The number of Attempted murders involving a firearm decreased by nine, falling from 11 offences in 2011-12 to two in 2012-13, a decrease of 82%.
  • The number of Serious assaults involving a firearm decreased by one offence between 2011-12 and 2012-13, reducing from seven offences to six, whilst the number of Robberies involving a firearm decreased by just over a half from the 82 recorded offences in 2011-12, to 39 in 2012-13.
  • With the exception of Breach of the peace etc. and 'Other crimes and offences', all other types of offence are at their lowest level in the ten year period covered by this bulletin. Since 2003-04, the first year in the time period covered by this bulletin, offences of Attempted murder, Serious assault and Vandalism have all decreased by over 90%.
  • When air weapons and unidentified weapons are excluded, the total number of offences involving a firearm in 2012-13 decreased by 41%, from 285 offences in 2011-12 to 168 offences.
  • The largest offence categories in 2012-13, when air weapons and unidentified weapons were excluded, were Breach of peace etc., Robbery and 'Other crimes and offences', which each constituted 20% of the overall number of offences involving a firearm. When looking at the actual number of offences, there were 34 offences of Breach of the peace etc. and 33 offences each of Robbery and 'Other crimes and offences'. Common assaults made up 18% of the remaining offences when air weapons and unidentified weapons were excluded in 2012-13.
  • The use of firearms in criminal activity continued to constitute only a small proportion of all offences recorded by the police in 2012-13, as shown in Chart 2; 1.5% of Homicides (one offence), 0.6% of Attempted murders (two offences) and 2.1% of Robberies (39 offences). Less than 0.5% of all Serious assaults, Vandalism offences and Common assaults involved the alleged use of a firearm. For further information please see Note 4.4.8.

Chart 2: Offences in which a firearm was alleged to have been involved, as a percentage of (selected) total recorded crimes1, Scotland, 2003-04 to 2012-13

Chart 2: Offences in which a firearm was alleged to have been involved, as a percentage of (selected) total recorded crimes, Scotland, 2003-04 to 2012-13

1. For further information please see Note 4.4.8.

3.2 Main firearm recorded (Tables 3, 3a and 4, and Chart 3)

  • Air weapons accounted for 47% (171) of all offences involving the alleged use of a firearm in 2012-13, up from 37% (197) in 2011-12. However, the number of offences involving the use of an air weapon did decrease by 13% between 2011-12 and 2012-13.
  • Between 2011-12 and 2012-13, the number of offences involving each of the different categories of firearms decreased, with the exception of offences involving a rifle. Offences involving a rifle increased to 16 offences in 2012-13 compared to 6 offences in 2011-12.
  • The largest decrease was of 59% for offences involving a shotgun, with the number of offences decreasing from 37 in 2011-12 to 15 in 2012-13. Excluding the category where the weapon was unidentified, the second largest decease was 48% for the 'other' firearms category, where the number of offences decreased from 97 to 50. This was followed by a 40% decrease in the number of recorded offences involving a pistol/revolver. There was also a decrease of 40% in the number of recorded offences involving an imitation firearm between 2011-12 and 2012-13.
  • 'Other' firearms were used in 14% of offences involving the alleged use of a firearm in 2012-13. This category includes all other weapons covered by the Firearms Act 1968 that are not separately identified - such as starting guns, taser guns and pepper spray.
  • The one Homicide involving a firearm in 2012-13 was committed using a shotgun. Of the two Attempted murders recorded as involving a firearm, the main weapon was identified as an air weapon for one offence with the other weapon being unidentified. Of the Robberies involving the alleged use of a firearm, 62% (24 out of the 39 offences) were committed with a pistol/revolver.
  • An air weapon was alleged to have been used in 15 of the 17 offences of Vandalism (88%) in 2012-13. An air weapon was also used in 80% of Reckless conduct with firearms offences and 55% of Common assaults.
  • As can be seen from Chart 3, the overall number of offences that involved the alleged use of a firearm in Scotland has been decreasing since 2006-07, the high point in the ten year period covered by this bulletin. With the exception of offences involving a rifle, where there has been no change over this period, the trend in the number of offences alleged to have involved each of the different categories of firearms has been downward. The number of offences where the weapon was unidentified has decreased by 85% since 2006-07 and offences involving the alleged use of an air weapon have decreased by 75%.

Chart 3: Main firearm recorded in offences involving the alleged use of a firearm, Scotland, 2003-04 to 2012-13

Chart 3: Main firearm recorded in offences involving the alleged use of a firearm, Scotland, 2003-04 to 2012-13

3.3 Firearm use (Tables 5, 5a, 6, 7, 8 and 8a, and Chart 4)

  • Of the 365 recorded offences involving a firearm in Scotland in 2012-13, 53% (194) resulted in the actual discharge of the firearm. This is the third year in a row that the proportion of offences that involved the actual discharge of the firearm has been 53% and the lowest proportion of offences that resulted in the actual discharge of the firearm in the ten year period covered by this bulletin. The breakdown of how the main firearm recorded was used in offences involving the alleged use of a firearm in 2012-13 can be seen in Chart 4.
  • The number of offences in which a firearm was fired and caused fatal or non-fatal injury to a person decreased by 31% between 2011-12 and 2012-13 (95 to 66 offences).
  • The number of offences in which a firearm was discharged causing no injury or damage decreased by 46% from 114 in 2011-12 to 62 in 2012-13. Property damage resulting from a fired weapon decreased by 14%, falling from 77 in 2011-12 to 66 in 2012-13.
  • Of the 194 offences in which a firearm was actually discharged in 2012-13, 68% (132) involved an air weapon. Of these offences involving an air weapon, 43 resulted in non-fatal injury to a person and 48 resulted in damage to property.

Chart 4: How main firearm recorded was used in offences involving the alleged use of a firearm, Scotland, 2012-13

Chart 4: How main firearm recorded was used in offences involving the alleged use of a firearm, Scotland, 2012-13

  • Of the 71 Common assaults involving a firearm that were recorded in 2012-13, 41 resulted in the weapon being discharged and causing non-fatal injury. This accounts for almost two thirds of the 65 recorded offences in which a firearm was fired and caused non-fatal injury.
  • The number of recorded offences in which a firearm was used to threaten decreased by 35% between 2011-12 and 2012-13 (197 to 129 offences), the lowest number recorded in the ten year period covered by this bulletin. The number of 'other uses' decreased by 18% (39 to 32 offences). In 84% of offences that involved a pistol/revolver (41 out of 49 offences) in 2012-13, the weapon was used to threaten.
  • In 2012-13, a weapon was used to threaten in 92% of recorded Robberies involving a firearm (36 out of 39 offences), reflecting the nature of such crimes. In 69% of both Firearms Act 1968 offences and Breach of the peace etc. offences, a weapon was used to threaten.

3.4 Location of firearm offence (Tables 9 and 9a, and Chart 5)

  • Of the 365 recorded offences involving a firearm in 2012-13, 123 occurred in a dwelling (34%), whilst 110 took place on a public highway (30%), where public highways include roads and footpaths. In addition, 81 offences (22%) occurred in 'other locations', such as licensed premises, and 39 offences occurred in shops (11%). Chart 5 shows the distribution of offences involving the alleged used of a firearm by location in 2012-13.
  • In 2012-13 there were six offences that occurred in a school/college involving the alleged use of a firearm. This is the lowest number of offences to have occurred in a school/college in the ten year period covered by this bulletin. In total, only six offences involving the alleged use of a firearm occurred within post offices, banks/building societies and places of public entertainment in 2012-13. This is only 2% of all offences involving the alleged use of a firearm in 2012-13.

Chart 5: Location of offences involving the alleged use of a firearm, Scotland, 2012-13

Chart 5: Location of offences involving the alleged use of a firearm, Scotland, 2012-13

1. Public highway includes roads and footpaths.

2. Shop includes shops, stalls, stores, offices and factories

3.5 Victim characteristics (Tables 10 and 10a)

  • Of the 66 main victims who were either fatally or non-fatally injured during an offence in which a firearm was alleged to have been discharged in 2012-13, 41 were male (62%) and 25 were female (38%). There were no reported offences involving the shooting of a police officer causing fatal or non-fatal injury in 2012-13.
  • There was an increase of 39% in the number of female victims in 2012-13 compared to 2011-12 (18 victims to 25 victims) and a decrease of 47% in the number of male victims (77 victims to 41 victims). As a result, the proportion of female victims (38%) who were either fatally or non-fatally injured during an offence in which a firearm was alleged to have been discharged in 2012-13, is the highest in the ten year period covered by this bulletin. This follows on from 2011-12, where the proportion of female victims (19%) was the lowest in the period covered by this bulletin.
  • In 2012-13, 19 main victims were aged between 11 and 15 years (29%) and five were aged 10 years or under (8%). A further 19 (29%) main victims were aged 31 or over.
  • There was an 11 percentage point increase in the proportion of victims aged 16 to 20 years old in 2012-13 (18% of victims) compared to 2011-12 (7% of victims). The 16 to 20 years old age group was the only group where the number of victims increased in 2012-13 compared to 2011-12. The increase of five victims was due to the increase in female victims, as the number of males victims aged 16 to 20 years remained the same in both 2011-12 and 2012-13.

3.6 Clear up rates (Table 11)

  • In 2012-13, 66% of all offences in which a firearm was alleged to have been involved were cleared up, a decrease of five percentage points from 71% in 2011-12. This is still the third highest clear up rate recorded in the ten year period covered by this bulletin. The clear up rate in 2012-13 is 26 percentage points higher than it was in 2003-04, the first year in the time period covered by this bulletin. For further information on clear up rates please see Note 4.3.
  • In 2012-13, the clear up rate for Homicides remained at 100% for the third year in a row. The clear up rate for Attempted murders involving a firearm also remained at 100% in 2012-13, as it was in 2011-12. The clear up rate for Serious assaults rose from 71% to 100% in 2012-13.
  • The clear up rate for 'Other crimes and offences' increased by ten percentage points from 51% in 2011-12 to 61% 2012-13. The clear up rate for Breach of the peace etc. was unchanged from the level recorded in 2011-12 at 82%.
  • The clear up rate for Vandalism increased by 12 percentage points from 12% in 2011-12 to 24% in 2012-13. The clear up rate has almost returned to the level recorded in 2010-11 and is the second highest in the ten year period covered by this bulletin. Due to the nature of the offence of Vandalism, the clear up rates for Vandalism offences have historically been low.
  • The clear up rate for Robberies involving a firearm decreased from 59% in 2011-12 to 56% in 2012-13, although this remains the second highest clear up rate for Robberies in the last ten years. The clear up rate for Firearms Act 1968 offences decreased by 21 percentage points from 96% in 2011-12 to 75% in 2012-13. This is the lowest clear up rate for Firearms Act 1968 offences in the ten year period covered by this bulletin.
  • The clear up rate for Reckless conduct with firearms offences decreased by seven percentage points, from 70% in 2011-12 to 63% in 2012-13. The clear up rate of 70% in 2011-12 is the highest rate recorded in the ten year period covered by this bulletin. The clear up rate in 2012-13 is consistent with the clear up rates recorded between 2007-08 and 2010-11, which ranged from 61% to 64%.
  • The clear up rate for Common assaults decreased by ten percentage points between 2011-12 and 2012-13 to 65%. This is the second year in a row the clear up rate for Common assaults has decreased. The clear up rate for Common assaults is now at its lowest level since 2006-07.

3.7 Accused characteristics (Tables 12 and 13)

  • The main accused was aged 15 years or under in 16% of cleared up offences involving the use of a firearm in 2012-13 (38 out of 241 offences). A further 24% of cleared up offences were committed by an accused aged 16 to 20 years (59 offences). The highest proportion of offences cleared up were those where the main accused was aged 21 to 30 years (31%). This is the fifth year in a row that the highest proportion of offences cleared up were those where the main accused was aged 21 to 30 years
  • In 2012-13, where the main accused was aged 15 years or under, just over half of offences involved the use of an air weapon (20 out of 38 offences). An air weapon was also involved in 46% of offences committed by a main accused aged 16 to 20 years. The proportion of offences involving an air weapon decreased where the main accused were aged 21 to 30 years and aged 31 to 40 years, where the proportions were 39% and 38% respectively. The proportion of offences involving an air weapon for those main accused aged 41 years or over was 45%.

3.8 Offences by police force area (Tables 14, 14a, 15 and 15a, and Chart 6)

  • When considering the trends in the number of offences in which a firearm was alleged to have been used by police force area, it should be noted that with the exception of the Lothian and Borders Police and Strathclyde Police force areas, the number of offences recorded in each of the remaining six forces are relatively small. As a result, small changes in the number of offences in which a firearm was alleged to have been used can lead to large changes in percentage terms.
  • There were increases in the number of offences in which a firearm was alleged to have been used recorded by three of the eight police forces in 2012-13 compared to 2011-12. The forces where the number of offences recorded increased were: Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary, Fife Constabulary and Grampian Police. For each of these three forces, the number of offences in which a firearm was alleged to have been used increased by more than 50% between 2011-12 and 2012-13.
  • The number of offences recorded in the Central Scotland Police force area in which a firearm was alleged to have been used remained at 20 in 2012-13, as it had been in 2011-12.
  • Decreases in the number of offences in which a firearm was alleged to have been used were recorded in the Lothian and Borders Police, Northern Constabulary, Strathclyde Police, and Tayside Police force areas. The number of offences in which a firearm was alleged to have been used recorded in the Lothian and Borders Police, Strathclyde Police, and Tayside Police force areas are now at their lowest levels in the ten year period covered by this bulletin. It is the sixth year in a row that the number of offences recorded in Strathclyde Police force areas has decreased and the fifth year in a row for the Tayside Police force area.
  • Chart 6 shows the distribution of offences in which a firearm was alleged to have been used in 2012-13 by police force area compared to the proportion of the Scottish population they contained in 2012.
  • The Strathclyde Police force area, which contained 42% of the estimated population of Scotland in 2012, accounted for 45% (163) of all offences in which a firearm was alleged to have been used in 2012-13. This a decrease of two percentage points compared to 2011-12.
  • More specifically, both of the Attempted murders (100%); four Serious assaults (67%), 25 Robberies (64%) and 33 Common assaults (46%) in which a firearm was involved, were recorded within the Strathclyde Police force area in 2012-13.
  • The 54% decrease in the number of offences in which a firearm was alleged to have been used, recorded in the Lothian and Borders Police force area between 2011-12 and 2012-13, is reflected in the change in the proportion of offences recorded within the force area. In both 2011 and 2012 the Lothian and Borders Police force area contained 18% of the Scottish population but the proportion of offences recorded in the force area decreased by ten percentage points from 32% in 2011-12 to 22% in 2012-13.
  • For both Breach of the peace etc. and 'Other crimes and offences' 27% of offences were recorded within the Lothian and Borders Police force area in 2012-13. The one Homicide involving the alleged use of a firearm in 2012-13 was recorded within the Lothian and Borders Police force area as well as two of the six Serious assaults recorded in 2012-13.
  • The Grampian Police force area contained 11% of the population of Scotland in 2012 but only 4% of offences in which a firearm was alleged to have been used were recorded within the force area in 2012-13.

Chart 6: Location profile by police force area of offences in which a firearm was alleged to have been involved compared to population1 profile, Scotland, 2012-13

Chart 6: Location profile by police force area of offences in which a firearm was alleged to have been involved compared to population profile, Scotland, 2012-13

1. Population estimates as at mid-year 2012 from the National Records of Scotland (http://www.gro-scotland.gov.uk/statistics/theme/population/estimates/mid-year/2012/index.html)

3.9 Stolen firearms (Table 16)

  • During 2012-13, Scottish police forces recorded 27 offences in which a firearm (other than an air weapon) was stolen, an increase of 12 from the 15 offences recorded in 2011-12.
  • The number of offences in which the main type of weapon stolen was a shotgun increased from three in 2011-12 to nine in 2012-13. Six offences involved stealing rifles in 2012-13, an increase of four offences compared to 2011-12. Following no offences where a pistol/revolver was stolen in 2011-12, there were two in 2012-13. In 2012-13, there were ten reported offences where the main type of firearm stolen was 'other firearms', which is the same number as in 2011-12.

3.10 Miscellaneous firearm offences (Table 17)

  • The number of Miscellaneous firearm offences, mainly relating to the possession, handling and distribution of weapons and ammunition, decreased by 22% from 620 in 2011-12 to 484 in 2012-13. This is the sixth year in row there has been a decrease in the number of Miscellaneous firearm offences and the 484 offences recorded in 2012-13 is the lowest number in the ten year period covered by this bulletin. For further information on these Miscellaneous firearm offences, please see Note 4.1.2.
  • There were decreases in the number of Miscellaneous firearm offences recorded in six of the eight police forces areas between 2011-12 and 2012-13. The exceptions being the Lothian and Borders Police and Tayside Police force areas, where there were increases of 16% and 7% respectively. The largest decrease was of 41% recorded in both the Central Scotland Police and Fife Constabulary force areas.

Contact

Email: Neil Henderson