Key Findings from the 2017/18 Scottish Crime and Justice Survey
This summary presents a range of key findings from the 2017/18 Scottish Crime and Justice Survey. 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 2017/18?
- There were an estimated 602,000 crimes experienced by adults in Scotland in 2017/18, down by more than two-fifths (42%) since 2008/09 and 16% since 2016/17.
- The SCJS indicates that most adults did not experience crime in 2017/18 (87.5%). Therefore, the SCJS estimates that 12.5% of adults were victims of at least one crime, down from 20.4% in 2008/09 (but no change since 2016/17). In other words, the proportion of adults in Scotland experiencing crime has fallen from around one-in-five to one-in-eight since 2008/09.
- The 2017/18 SCJS estimates that most crime (71%) was property related, with the remaining 29% being violent incidents.
- It is estimated that 35% of crime was reported to the police in 2017/18, unchanged from 2008/09.
Focus on violent crime
What was the extent and prevalence of violent crime in Scotland in 2017/18?
- There were an estimated 172,000 violent crimes experienced by adults in 2017/18, representing a decrease of 46% since 2008/09, but unchanged since 2016/17. The fall in violent crime over the last decade has been mostly driven by decreases between 2008/09 and 2010/11, with some fluctuations but broad stability seen since then.
- The likelihood of experiencing violent crime in Scotland is relatively small (2.3%); it has fallen from 4.1% in 2008/09 but is unchanged since 2016/17.
- Consistent with previous SCJS findings, the majority of violent crime incidents in 2017/18 were cases of minor assault resulting in no or negligible injury (62%). Other violent crimes comprised minor assault with injury (20%), attempted assault (7%), robbery (6%) and serious assault (5%).
Experiences and characteristics of violent crime
- Whilst 2.3% of adults were victims of violence in 2017/18, victimisation rates varied amongst some population groups. Those in deprived areas were more likely to be victims of violence in 2017/18 (3.8%), whilst such experiences were less likely for adults aged 60 and over (0.4%) compared to those in younger age groups. Following decreases in victimisation over the last decade, there was no difference in the likelihood of being a victim of violence by gender or rurality in 2017/18.
- The proportion of younger adults experiencing violent crime has more than halved from 12.0% in 2008/09 to 5.8% in 2017/18, but similar improvements have not been experienced by all age groups over this period.
- A small number of victims experienced a high proportion of violent crime. Most adults did not experience violent crime in 2017/18 (97.7%). 1.6% of adults experienced one violent crime and 0.7% of adults were repeat victims, experiencing two or more violent crimes. These repeat victims experienced around three-fifths of all violent crime in 2017/18.
- Experiences of both single and repeat violent victimisation were lower in 2017/18 than in 2008/09, but fluctuations in the prevalence of repeat victimisation in recent years mean these findings should be monitored into the future.
- The proportion of violent crime involving offenders under the influence of alcohol has fallen from 63% in 2008/09 to 46% in 2017/18.
- Violent crime did not commonly involve the presence or use of weapons (12%).
Focus on property crime
What was the extent and prevalence of property crime in Scotland in 2017/18?
- There were an estimated 430,000 property crimes in 2017/18, representing a decrease of 41% since 2008/09, but unchanged since 2016/17.
- The proportion of adults experiencing property crime in Scotland was 10.8% in 2017/18. This is unchanged from 2016/17, but down from 18.0% in 2008/09.
- As in previous years, incidents of vandalism accounted for the largest proportion of property crime incidents (38%), followed by other household theft (including bicycle theft) (29%), personal theft (22%), all motor vehicle related theft (6%) and housebreaking (6%).
Experiences and characteristics of property crime
- Whilst 10.8% of adults were victims of property crime in 2017/18, victimisation rates varied amongst the population. Those under 60, people in the most deprived areas of Scotland and those living in urban locations were more likely to experience property crime in 2017/18 than comparator groups.
- A small number of victims experienced a high proportion of property crime. Most adults did not experience property crime in 2017/18 (89.2%). 8.2% of adults experienced one property crime and 2.6% of adults were repeat victims, experiencing two or more property crime. These repeat victims experienced almost half of all property crime in 2017/18 (49%). However, repeat property crime victimisation has fallen 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, with both sources showing marked decreases over the past decade. Between 2008/09 and 2017/18, police recorded crime in the comparable subset fell by 40%, whilst the estimated number of incidents in the SCJS comparable crime group decreased by 47%.
Public perceptions of the police and the justice system
Public perceptions of the police
- The majority of adults (57%) said that the police were doing a good or excellent job in their local area in 2017/18, unchanged since 2016/17 but down from 61% in 2012/13.
- The majority of adults were very or fairly confident in the ability of the local police across the six measures exploring perceptions of effectiveness asked about in this survey.
- Since 2008/09, there have been increases in confidence across all six measures. Confidence in the ability of the police decreased marginally between 2012/13 and 2014/15 on some measures, but has broadly stabilised since and in 2017/18 remained above the 2008/09 baseline across all six indicators.
- The proportion of adults aware of the police regularly patrolling their area has fallen from 56% in 2012/13 to 40% in 2017/18. However, questions on perceptions of community engagement and fairness find that people generally hold favourable views on the approach of the police in their local area. Perceptions have also generally improved since 2009/10 (when relevant questions were first included in the survey).
Public perceptions of the justice system
- Most adults (76%) said they did not know very much or anything at all about the criminal justice system.
- Generally the public were fairly confident about the operation of the justice system. For example, 77% 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, 38% were confident that it gives sentences which fit the crime.
- The public generally thought that prisons should provide support to help prisoners address problem behaviours and integrate with the community. For example, 90% agreed that prisons should help prisoners change their behaviour rather than just punish them.
- Adults were generally supportive of community sentences. For instance, 84% agreed that people should help their community as part of a community sentence rather than spend a few months in prison for a minor offence, however, almost a quarter believed this puts the public at risk of crime.
Public perceptions of crime and safety
- Just under three-quarters of adults (73%) thought that the local crime rate had stayed the same or reduced in the two years prior to interview. This has increased from 65% in 2006 and 69% in 2008/09, but represents a fall from 76% in 2016/17.
- Over three-quarters (77%) of adults said they felt very or fairly safe walking alone in their neighbourhood after dark, up from 66% in 2008/09 and unchanged from 2016/17.
Key Findings from the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey self-completion sections, 2016/17-2017/18
This summary presents a range of key findings from the self-completion sections of the 2016/17 and 2017/18 sweeps of the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey. Self-completion data is merged over two years and published biennially, with findings therefore covering 2016/17-2017/18 (2016-18) unless otherwise stated. These findings are covered in more detail and wider context in the sections of the report focusing on these topics.
Illicit Drug Use
- Looking at comparable measures, where drug type is generally consistent over time, the proportion of adults reporting drug use in the 12 months before interview increased from 6.0% in 2014/15 to 7.4% in 2017/18, but is unchanged since 2008/09.
- 9.5% of respondents reported having taken one or more of any of the listed drugs in the survey in the last 12 months.
- Cannabis was the most commonly reported drug taken in the last 12 months, with 70% of respondents who had taken any drugs in the last 12 months reporting they had taken cannabis.
Stalking & Harassment
- In the 12 months prior to interview, 11.1% of adults experienced at least one type of stalking and harassment.
- The most common type of stalking and harassment involved being sent unwanted messages by text, email, messenger or posts on social media sites, which was experienced by 7.5% of adults.
- 50% of respondents who experienced at least one form of stalking and harassment in the 12 months prior to interview reported having known the offender(s) in some way, whilst 41% said the offender was someone they had never met.
- The police were informed about the most recent (or only) incident in around one-in-ten cases (9%).
- Experiences of at least one form of stalking and harassment were higher amongst those aged 16 to 24 (19.0%), than any other age group, but there was no significant difference between men and women overall.
- Women were more likely than men to report being followed (1.6% compared to 0.6%, respectively) or receiving unwanted messages by text, email, messenger, or posts on social media (8.4% compared to 6.5%, respectively).
- Overall, 15.6% of respondents reported experiencing at least one form of partner abuse, either psychological or physical, since the age of 16, up from 14.1% in 2014/15 but down since 2008/09 (18.2%).
- Between 2008/09 and 2016/18, the proportion of respondents who reported experiencing partner abuse in the 12 months prior to interview decreased from 4.2% to 3.0%.
- Experiences of partner abuse in the 12 months prior to interview were more common for women than men (3.6% and 2.3%, respectively), and those aged 16 to 24 (8.5%).
- Of those who had experienced at least one incident of partner abuse since the age of 16, 62% reported having one abusive partner only. A further 13% reported that they had two abusive partners since they were 16, and 9% reported having had three or more abusive partners.
- The most commonly reported type of psychological abuse was a partner acting in a jealous or controlling way (9%); the most commonly reported type of physical abuse was being kicked, bitten or hit by a partner (6%).
- 19% said that the police came to know about the most recent (or only) incident of partner abuse somehow; either through themselves or other means, including via neighbours and relatives.
Serious Sexual Assault
- Since the age of 16, 3.6% of adults in Scotland have experienced at least one type of serious sexual assault. A higher proportion of women than men reported experiencing at least one type of serious sexual assault (6.2% compared to 0.8%, respectively).
- Victims of serious sexual assault were likely to have experienced more than one incident. Of those who had experienced forced sexual intercourse since the age of 16, 62% said they had experienced more than one incident, around half of whom (31%) said they had experienced too many incidents to count.
- Almost a quarter (23%) said the most recent (or only) incident of forced sexual intercourse was reported to the police. The most common reason given for not reporting forced sexual intercourse was fear of making matters worse (38%).
Less Serious Sexual Assault
- Since the age of 16, 9.3% of adults experienced at least one type of less serious sexual assault. A higher proportion of women reported experience of less serious sexual assault since the age of 16 than men (15.5% and 2.5%, respectively).
- The most commonly experienced form of less serious sexual assault since the age of 16 was unwanted sexual touching (6.4%), followed by indecent exposure (4.1%), and being subject to sexual threats (2.6%).
- Of those who had experienced indecent exposure since the age of 16, 76% said that the offender was a stranger. Strangers were also most likely to perpetuate unwanted sexual touching (41%). In contrast, sexual threats were more likely to involve partners (52%).