Key Findings from the 2016/17 Scottish Crime and Justice Survey
This summary presents a range of key findings from the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2016/17. These findings and others are also presented visually in summary graphics and further results and context are provided in the report chapters. Additional findings on cyber-crime, harassment & discrimination, workplace abuse and fake/smuggled goods are presented in SCJS topical reports.
Overview of crime
What was the extent and prevalence of crime in Scotland in 2016/17?
- There were an estimated 712,000 crimes experienced by adults in Scotland in 2016/17, down by nearly a third (32%) since 2008/09 (but no change detected since 2014/15).
- The SCJS indicates that most adults did not experience crime in 2016/17 (86.6%). Therefore, the SCJS estimates that 13.4% of adults were victims of at least one crime, down from 20.4% in 2008/09 (but no change since 2014/15).
- The 2016/17 SCJS estimates that around one third of crime was violent crime (32%) and just over two-thirds was property crime (68%).
- It is estimated that almost four in ten crimes were reported to the police in 2016/17 (37%).
Focus on violent crime
What was the extent and prevalence of violent crime in Scotland in 2016/17?
- There were an estimated 231,000 violent crimes in 2016/17, representing a decrease of 27% since 2008/09, but unchanged since 2014/15.
- The likelihood of experiencing violent crime in Scotland is relatively small (2.9%); it has fallen from 4.1% in 2008/09 but is unchanged since 2014/15.
- Consistent with previous SCJS findings, the majority of violent crime incidents in 2016/17 were cases of minor assault resulting in no or negligible injury (72%). Other violent crimes comprised minor assault with injury (13%), serious assault (7%), attempted assault (4%) and robbery (3%).
Experiences and characteristics of violent crime
- Whilst 2.9% of adults were victims of violence in 2016/17, victimisation rates were higher amongst some groups including: adults aged 16-24 (5.3%), people in the most deprived areas of Scotland (4.8%) and those living in urban locations (3.2%).
- The proportion of younger adults experiencing violent crime has more than halved from 12.0% in 2008/09 to 5.3% in 2016/17, but similar improvements have not been experienced by all groups over this period
- A small number of victims experienced a high proportion of violent crime. Most adults did not experience violent crime in 2016/17 (97.1%). 1.8% of adults experienced one violent crime and 1.1% of adults were repeat victims, experiencing two or more violent crime. These repeat victims experienced around two-thirds of all violent crime in 2016/17.
- Between 2008/09 and 2016/17, the proportion of adults experiencing one incident of violence in a year fell (from 2.6% to 1.8%), however no change was detected in the likelihood of experiencing more than one violent crime.
- The proportion of violent crimes involving offenders under the influence of alcohol has fallen from 63% in 2008/09 to 42% in 2016/17.
- Violent crime in 2016/17 did not commonly involve the presence or use of weapons (15%).
Focus on property crime
What was the extent and prevalence of property crime in Scotland in 2016/17?
- There were an estimated 481,000 property crimes in 2016/17, representing a decrease of 34% since 2008/09, but unchanged since 2014/15.
- The likelihood of adults experiencing property crime in Scotland was 11.5% in 2016/17, down from 18.0% in 2008/09 and from 13.0% in 2014/15.
- As in previous years, incidents of vandalism accounted for the largest proportion of property crime incidents (34%), followed by other household theft (including bicycle theft) (27%), personal theft (26%), all motor vehicle theft (8%) and housebreaking (5%).
Experiences and characteristics of property crime
- Whilst 11.5% of adults were victims of property crime in 2016/17, victimisation rates were higher amongst some groups including: adults aged 16-24 (16.8%), people in the most deprived areas of Scotland (16.5%) and those living in urban locations (12.8%).
- A small number of victims experienced a high proportion of property crime. Most adults did not experience property crime in 2016/17 (88.5%). 8.3% of adults experienced one property crime and 3.3% of adults were repeat victims, experiencing two or more property crime. These repeat victims experienced more than half of all property crime in 2016/17. However, repeat property crime victimisation has almost halved from 6.4% in 2008/09.
Comparing the SCJS with Police Recorded Crime
- A comparable subset of crime is used to enable comparisons to be made between recorded crime and SCJS estimates. Between 2008/09 and 2016/17, police recorded crime and SCJS in the comparable subset both fell by 39%.
Public perceptions of the police and the justice system
Public perceptions of the police
- The majority of adults (58%) said that the police were doing a good or excellent job in their local area, unchanged since 2014/15 but down from 61% in 2012/13.
- The majority of adults were very or fairly confident in their local police force across the six measures of confidence asked about in this survey.
- Since 2008/09, there have been increases in confidence across all six measures, while two measures have increased since 2014/15 (confidence in the police to solve crime and catch criminals).
- Whilst generally the majority in all groups were confident in the police, the level of confidence was lower on some measures amongst victims of crime, those living in deprived areas and those in rural locations.
- Confidence in the police has improved amongst many population sub-groups over time, however across five of the six measures confidence in rural areas in 2016/17 was at a similar level as in 2008/09.
Public perceptions of the justice system
- Most adults said they did not know a lot about the criminal justice system (61%) and another 16% said they knew nothing at all.
- Generally the public were fairly confident about the operation of the justice system, for example, 78% were confident that it allows those accused of crimes to get a fair trial regardless of who they are and 75% were confident that it makes sure everyone has access to the justice system if they need it. However, adults were less confident on other measures, for example, 39% were confident that it gives punishments which fit the crime.
- The public had mixed views on the effectiveness of prisons in tackling crime and rehabilitating offenders. For instance, whilst around three-quarters (76%) of adults were very or fairly confident that prisons played an important role in protecting the public from crime, more than half (52%) were not very or not at all confident in the ability of prisons to deter people from offending.
- There were also mixed views on the effectiveness of community sentences. For example, whilst the majority of people (77%) believed that community sentencing is an effective way of dealing with certain crimes, around two-fifths of adults (42%) agreed that people who complete their community sentences have made amends for the harm they have caused.
Public perceptions of crime and safety
- Three quarters (76%) thought that the local crime rate had stayed the same or reduced, unchanged from 2014/15 and up from 65% in 2006.
- Over three-quarters (77%) of adults said they felt very or fairly safe walking alone in their neighbourhood after dark, up from 74% in 2014/15 and from 66% in 2008/09.