Recorded crimes and offences involving firearms: 2016-17 and 2017-18 statistics

Statistics on crimes and offences recorded by the police in Scotland in which a firearm was alleged to have been involved or where a firearm was stolen.

This document is part of a collection

1. Background

  • All tables referenced in this bulletin are presented in an accompanying excel workbook, available via the following link: 
  • To avoid unnecessary repetition of the term ‘recorded crimes and offences’ throughout this publication, reference will simply be made to ‘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 points and tables of this bulletin. Totals for these offences are presented separately in Table 17. This also applies for offences recorded under the Air Weapons Licensing (Scotland) Act 2015, where totals are presented in Table 17a.
  • Statistics on recorded crimes and offences inform the Scottish Government’s Justice Vision and Priorities. Available via the following link:
  • 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.
  • During quality assurance of the information collected for the 2016-17 official statistics, Scottish Government statisticians and analysts from Police Scotland noted there was a higher risk in some divisions that the data collection process being used may not have identified all relevant offences involving the alleged use of a firearm. Following further discussion a decision was taken to postpone the release of the 2016-17 figures until further checks could be carried out. Users were informed of this through the SCOTSTAT network in January 2018.

Scottish Government statisticians then worked with Police Scotland to review the approaches being taken across their 13 divisions, to identify any additional offences that needed to be included in the data. Based on the findings of this review, refreshed guidance on how to collate this data was issued to the divisions, who were asked to resubmit their returns for 2015-16 and 2016-17, along with new data for 2017-18. Further details on the process undertaken for this review can be found in Note 3.2.

The revised statistics for 2015-16 and newly published statistics for 2016-17 and 2017-18 (all presented in this bulletin) are now considered to provide a more accurate picture of the number of firearms related offences in Scotland. 

Given the improvement to the data collection process, users are advised to be cautious when making comparisons between data published up to 2014-15 and the data published in this bulletin for 2015-16 onwards. As the earlier data has not been revisited, a direct comparison of this nature is unlikely to be on a like-for-like basis.

What can be said is that any error in previously published data up to 2014-15 would be likely to involve a small underestimate in the true position. As such, the number of firearms related offences recorded by the police in 2017-18 can be said to be at the lowest level recorded for any single year since 1980.



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