Publication - Statistics

Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2019/20: main findings

Main findings from the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2019/2020, including self-completion findings covering the period 2018/19 to 2019/20.

Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2019/20: main findings
3. Focus on violent crime

3. Focus on violent crime

What was the extent and prevalence of violent crime in Scotland in 2019/20?

There were an estimated 194,000 violent crimes in 2019/20, representing around one-in-three crimes experienced by adults during the year.

The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS) estimates that 194,000 incidents[18] of violent crime[19] were experienced by adults in Scotland in 2019/20. This figure accounts for 34% of all crime measured by the SCJS in 2019/20; with the remainder being property-related.

As a sample survey of the general public, SCJS results on the extent of violence are estimated values which have relatively wide margins of error around them, rather than exact counts. Further information on the process used to calculate estimates is contained within the Technical Report. Taking into account these margins of error, the SCJS estimates that there were between 147,000 and 242,000 incidents of violent crime in Scotland in 2019/20. The following analysis is focused on the best estimates for each year of the survey.

The estimated level of violent crime in Scotland has fallen by nearly two-fifths since 2008/09.

The SCJS estimates that the number of violent crimes in Scotland has fallen by 39% since 2008/09. Figure 3.1 displays the number of violent incidents estimated to have taken place by each year of the SCJS since 2008/09, and shows a downward trend over the longer-term.[20]

Figure 3.1: Estimated number of violent incidents, 2008/09 to 2019/20
Chart showing estimated number of violent incidents, 2008/09 to 2019/20

Base: SCJS 2008/09 (16,000); 2009/10 (16,040); 2010/11 (13,010); 2012/13 (12,050); 2014/15 (11,470); 2016/17 (5,570); 2017/18 (5,480); 2018/19 (5,540); 2019/20 (5,570). Variable: INCVIOLENT.

Table 3.1 examines results from key comparator years[21] and shows that the estimated amount of violent crime experienced by adults:

  • has fallen by 39% since the 2008/09 baseline, from 317,000 to 194,000 incidents in 2019/20
  • has shown no change since the last SCJS in 2018/19 - the apparent increase from 165,000 violent incidents is not statistically significant
Table 3.1: Estimated number of violent crimes (2008/09, 2018/19, 2019/20)
Number of violent crimes 2008/09 2018/19 2019/20 Change since 2008/09 Change since 2018/19
Best estimate 317,000 165,000 194,000 ↓ by 39% No change
Lower estimate 275,000 121,000 147,000
Upper estimate 358,000 209,000 242,000
Number of respondents 16,000 5,540 5,570

Variable: INCVIOLENT.

The fall in violent crime over the last decade has been mostly driven by decreases between 2008/09 and 2010/11.

Violent crime estimates derived from the SCJS are based on a relatively small number of respondents who disclose experiences of such issues in the survey in any given year.[22] As a result, analysis of findings between adjacent surveys are often less likely to identify statistically significant changes. For example, all of the apparent fluctuations shown from year to year since 2010/11 in Figure 3.1 are not statistically significant.

However, where they exist, the SCJS can often identify significant changes and trends over the longer-term (such as since 2008/09 as discussed above). Taking this into account, a more detailed examination of changes in the level of violent crime over the last decade finds that the estimated number of violent incidents:

  • fell markedly (by 30%) between 2008/09 and 2010/11, and has remained below the 2008/09 baseline since then
  • has been more stable in recent years - for instance, the apparent falls in violence from 2010/11 and 2012/13 to 2019/20 are not statistically significant

Therefore, overall the SCJS suggests that the level of violence experienced by adults in Scotland has been relatively stable since 2010/11.

The vast majority of adults in Scotland did not experience violent crime in 2019/20 and the likelihood of experiencing violent crime has decreased since 2008/09.

Looking at the victimisation rate,[23] the SCJS estimates that 2.5% of adults were victims of at least one violent crime in 2019/20. In comparison, an estimated 10.0% of adults experienced property crime over the same period.

However, like incident numbers, it is worth noting crime prevalence rates are also estimates with associated margins of error around them as they are derived from a sample survey of the population. Taking into account these confidence intervals, between 2.0% and 3.0% of the adult population were estimated to have experienced violent crime in 2019/20, with 2.5% representing the best estimate.[24] Again, as with incident counts, analysis from this point onwards will focus on the best estimates for results across the survey for each survey year.[25]

Looking at trends over time, the proportion of adults experiencing violent crime has fallen from 4.1% in 2008/09 to 2.5% in 2019/20. Overall, this suggests that violent victimisation in Scotland has been relatively uncommon since 2008/09 and has become an even less prevalent experience over the last decade.

Since the last SCJS in 2018/19 there has been no change detected in the proportion of adults experiencing violent crime. The apparent increase from 2.2% in 2018/19 to 2.5% in 2019/20, as shown in Figure 3.2, is not statistically significant.

However, as noted earlier, the SCJS is often better able to identify trends and changes, where they exist, over longer time periods. For example, looking further back reveals that the proportion of adults experiencing violence in 2019/20 (2.5%) was lower than the 3.6% in 2009/10 (and 2008/09), but has been more stable since then.

Figure 3.2: Proportion of adults experiencing violent crime (2008/09, 2018/19, 2019/20)
Chart showing proportion of adults experiencing violent crime (2008/09, 2018/19, 2019/20)

Base: SCJS 2008/09 (16,000); 2018/19 (5,540); 2019/20 (5,570). Variable: PREVVIOLENT.

What types of violent crime were most commonly experienced in 2019/20?

As in previous years, the majority of violent crimes in 2019/20 were incidents of minor assault resulting in no or negligible injury.

Almost three-quarter (73%) of violent incidents in 2019/20 were cases of minor assault with no or negligible injury to the victim, as shown in Figure 3.3. By comparison, 6% of violent incidents in 2019/20 were serious assaults and 5% were robberies. Taken together, all categories of assault accounted for 95% of violent crime.

Figure 3.3: Categories of crime as proportions of violent crime overall
Chart showing categories of crime as proportions of violent crime overall

Base: 2019/20 (130). Variables: INCMINORASSNOINJURY; INCMINORASSINJURY; INCATTEMPTASSAULT; INCSERASSAULT; INCROB.

Between 2008/09 and 2019/20, the SCJS has consistently estimated that assaults (including attempted, minor and serious assaults) have accounted for around 95% of violent crime experienced by adults. As such, trends over time in the number of assaults very closely mirror wider trends in violence. The number of assaults has fallen by 38% since 2008/09 (from an estimated 297,000 incidents to 185,000), similar to overall violent crime which has fallen by 39% in the same time period.

The strength of the SCJS lies in looking at the prevalence of rare events, such as robbery and serious assault, rather than estimating the number of incidents.

Whilst sub-categories of violent crime such as robbery and serious assault are important events for victims, these crimes represent small proportions of violence overall and are experienced by small proportions of the population (and therefore of the SCJS sample), and so this means they have relatively large degrees of error around them.[26]

As such, for crime types which occur in lower volume (but which may often result in more severe physical injuries) like serious assault, the strength of the SCJS is in examining how prevalent such experiences are in the population (i.e. demonstrating that a relatively small proportion of the population are affected), rather than estimating the number of incidents of these types of crime that occur in a single year or over time. Therefore, the main body of the SCJS report focuses on the prevalence of such crimes. Estimates of the extent of these crimes are provided in the Annex tables (see Annex Table A1.2).

As (minor) assaults account for the vast majority of violent crime, it is worth noting that the later sections, which look at the characteristics of violent crime in general, will also be mainly driven by the nature of these incidents i.e. higher volume crimes that often result in less severe or no physical injuries.

Expanding the evidence on violent crime

To enhance the wider evidence base on serious assault and robbery, Scottish Government statisticians have carried out two further in-depth studies. The first, published in 2018, examined a random sample of almost 1,000 police recorded crimes of robbery, providing insights into how the characteristics of robbery have changed in Scotland between 2008/09 and 2017/18. Full details and findings can be found on the Scottish Government website.

The second, published in 2019, used a similar approach to explore the changing characteristics of police recorded attempted murder and serious assault between 2008/09 and 2017/18. This report can be accessed via the Scottish Government website.

To collate the evidence on violent crime in Scotland, the Scottish Government published a report on non-sexual violence in Scotland. This report brought together official data from a range of Scottish sources - both Criminal Justice and Health (including SCJS and police recorded crime data) - to better understand the current profile and problem of non-sexual violence in Scotland. The report was published in September 2019 and, as such, features 2017/18 SCJS data, although many of the key findings will remain unchanged with the latest SCJS data.

Two reports on violence prevention have recently been published - What Works to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls: A Summary of the Evidence and What Works to Prevent Youth Violence: A Summary of the Evidence.

The likelihood of experiencing assault and robbery have both fallen since 2008/09.

Returning to SCJS findings, as in previous years, the prevalence rate for different categories of violent crime varied. An estimated 2.4% of adults were victims of any sort of assault in 2019/20, whilst 0.2% experienced robbery.

Examining trends over time, the SCJS finds that the prevalence of assault has fallen from 3.8% in 2008/09, again demonstrating a similar trend to violence overall. The proportion of adults experiencing robbery has fallen from 0.4% over the same period, as shown in Figure 3.4.

Figure 3.4: Proportion of adults experiencing types of violent crime (2008/09, 2018/19, 2019/20)
Chart showing proportion of adults experiencing types of violent crime (2008/09, 2018/19, 2019/20)

Base: SCJS 2008/09 (16,000); 2018/19 (5,540); 2019/20 (5,570). Variables: PREVASSAULT; PREVROB.

Whilst a small proportion of adults were victims of any sort of assault in 2019/20, experiences of more serious forms of violence were rarer still. This is in line with the finding that the vast majority of violent crime was accounted for by minor assaults. For instance, a greater proportion of adults experienced minor assault with no or negligible injury (1.8%) than minor assault resulting in injury (0.3%) or serious assault (0.2%).

How did experiences of violent crime vary across the population?

Men were more likely to experience violent crime in 2019/20, as well as people in the most deprived areas of Scotland, and those living in urban locations. People aged 60 and over were least likely to be victims of violence in 2019/20.

The SCJS enables us to examine how experiences of violent crime varied across the population by demographic and area characteristics. As shown in Figure 3.5, the likelihood of experiencing violence in 2019/20 was:

  • greater for men than women
  • lowest for those aged 60 and over
  • greater for those living in the 15% most deprived areas in Scotland
  • greater for adults living in urban locations than rural locations

This is the first time since the 2014/15 SCJS that there has been a difference in the likelihood of experiencing violent crime by gender, with males found to have a higher likelihood (3.1%) than females (2.0%).

No significant difference was found in the likelihood of being a victim of violence between those aged 16 to 24 and 25 to 44. A significant difference between these groups had emerged in 2018/19, but the finding for 2019/20 is back in line with 2016/17 and 2017/18. Those aged 60 and over continued to be the age group least likely to be victims of violence however, with fewer than 1 in 100 experiencing violence in this age group, compared to around 1 in 20 of those aged 16 to 24.

The 2019/20 SCJS detected a difference in the likelihood of experiencing violence between adults living in the 15% most deprived areas (5.3%) and the rest of Scotland (2.1%). This contrasts with the 2018/19 finding, where no significance difference was found between these two groups, but is back in line with previous years' results.

The 2019/20 SCJS also found a difference in the likelihood of experiencing violence by rurality, with adults in urban areas more likely to experience violent crime (2.8%) than those in rural areas (1.4%). This contrasts with the 2018/19 and 2017/18 findings, where no significance difference was found between these two groups, but is consistent with the findings in previous years.[27]

Figure 3.5: Proportion of adults experiencing violent crime, by demographic and area characteristics
Chart showing proportion of adults experiencing violent crime, by demographic characteristics

Base: 2019/20 SCJS (5,570). Variables: INCSURVEYCRIME; QDGEN; QDAGE; SIMD_TOP; URBRUR.

Since 2008/09, the proportion of younger adults experiencing violent crime has more than halved, but has shown no change for females, those living in most deprived areas in Scotland and those in rural locations.

Looking at trends over time, the proportion of those aged 16 to 24 who were victims of violence has more than halved since 2008/09, from 12.0% to 5.4% in 2019/20. In contrast, the prevalence rates for 25 to 44, 45 to 59 year olds and for those aged 60 and over have shown no change over this time (Figure 3.6).

Figure 3.6: Proportion of adults experiencing violent crime by age, 2008/09 to 2019/20
Chart showing proportion of adults experiencing violent crime, by age

Base: SCJS 2008/09 (16,000); 2009/10 (16,040); 2010/11 (13,010); 2012/13 (12,050); 2014/15 (11,470); 2016/17 (5,570); 2017/18 (5,480); 2018/19 (5,540); 2019/20 (5,570). Variables: PREVVIOLENT; QDAGE.

Since 2008/09, the proportion experiencing violence has shown no change for females, adults living in the 15% most deprived areas and those in rural locations, but has fallen for males, adults living in the rest of Scotland and those in urban locations, as shown in Figure 3.7 below. The figure also shows statistically significant differences between these comparator groups in 2019/20, discussed previously.

Figure 3.7: Proportion of adults experiencing violent crime by gender, area deprivation and rurality, 2008/09 to 2019/20
Chart showing proportion of adults experiencing violent crime by gender, deprivation and rurality

Base: SCJS 2008/09 (16,000); 2009/10 (16,040); 2010/11 (13,010); 2012/13 (12,050); 2014/15 (11,470); 2016/17 (5,570); 2017/18 (5,480); 2018/19 (5,540); 2019/20 (5,570). Variables: PREVVIOLENT; TABQDGEN; SIMD_TOP; TABURBRUR.

When considering findings by gender, it is important to note that victims of partner abuse may not report such experiences through the face-to-face element of the SCJS which produces the main survey prevalence rates, including on violence. As such, questions on experiences of partner abuse (covering both physical and psychological abuse) are answered in a self-completion element of the survey - with the latest key findings on this topic from 2018/19 and 2019/20 combined presented in Section 9.3. The figures showed that in the 12 month period prior to interview, experiences of partner abuse were more common for women than men (3.7% and 2.6%, respectively).

Looking at more recent changes since 2018/19, there have been no statistically significant changes in the violent victimisation rate across any of the population groups discussed above (including age), which is in line with the national average.

What can the SCJS tell us about repeat victimisation?

The SCJS estimates that most adults did not experience violent crime in 2019/20, whilst 2.5% of the population were victims of at least one violent crime.

The survey also enables us to further explore how experiences varied amongst victims and examine the concentration of crime, including what proportion of victims experienced a particular type of crime more than once during the year.[28] This is known as 'repeat victimisation'.

Further information about the approach taken to process and derive SCJS results, including on repeat victimisation, is provided in the Technical Report.

1 in every 100 adults were victims of repeated incidents of violence, but their experiences accounted for almost two-thirds of violent crime in 2019/20.

Table 3.2 explores the volume of crime experienced by victims in more detail to outline the extent of repeat victimisation and further unpack the concentration of violent crime amongst the adult population. It shows that 1.5% of adults were victims of a single violent incident over the year, with a smaller proportion of the population (1.0%) experiencing repeat victimisation (two or more violent crimes). These repeat victims are estimated to have experienced on average 2.7 violent crimes each during 2019/20, whilst together this group of adults are estimated to have experienced almost two-thirds (65%) of all violent crime committed against adults over this period. The table also highlights that an even smaller proportion of the population (0.1%) were high frequency repeat victims, who experienced five or more incidents each.

Table 3.2: Proportion of violent crime experienced by victims, by number of crimes experienced
Table showing proportion of violent crime experienced by victims, by number of crimes experienced

Base: SCJS 2019/20 (5,570). Variables: PREVVIOLENT; INCVIOLENT.

The proportion of victims experiencing two or more violent crimes was lower in 2019/20 than in 2008/09.

The proportion of adults experiencing only one incident of violence, those experiencing two or more incidents, and those experiencing five or more incidents were all lower in 2019/20 than in 2008/09. Whilst this means repeat violent victimisation for two or more incidents was less prevalent in 2019/20 than a decade ago, findings comparing single years should be interpreted with caution and be considered in the context of broader trends over that period.

Looking more closely, with the exception of 2016/17, the proportion experiencing two or more violent crimes has been below the 2008/09 baseline (1.6%) since 2010/11. In 2016/17 the 1.1% estimate was not significantly different to the 2008/09 figure.

Although high frequency victimisation is consistently very rare, as stated above, the proportion of adults experiencing five or more incidents in 2019/20 was lower than in 2008/09. This is in line with the 2017/18 finding but a change from 2018/19, where this finding was not significantly lower than in 2008/09.

Figure 3.8 shows trends in single and repeat violent victimisation over time. It shows decreases since 2008/09, while the apparent differences since 2018/19 are not statistically significant.

Figure 3.8: Proportion of adults experiencing a number of violent crimes, 2008/09 to 2019/20
Chart showing proportion of adults experiencing a number of violent crimes, 2008/09 to 2019/20

Base: SCJS 2008/09 (16,000); 2009/10 (16,040); 2010/11 (13,010); 2012/13 (12,050); 2014/15 (11,470); 2016/17 (5,570); 2017/18 (5,480); 2018/19 (5,540); 2019/20 (5,570). Variables: PREVVIOLENT; INCVIOLENT.

Note: the 'five or more' category is a sub-set of the 'two or more' category.

Expanding the evidence on repeat violent victimisation

The Scottish Government published a rapid evidence review on repeat violent victimisation in April 2019, which informed the commissioning of a qualitative study to better understand repeat violent victimisation in Scotland, in late 2019. The research is intended to inform effective, appropriate and proportionate policy responses, as well as service responses to support victims, tailored to the needs of those who experience the highest levels of violent victimisation in Scottish society. Given the face-to-face nature of this research, this study has not been able to continue during the pandemic. The research has been paused for a further six months, is due to resume in May 2021 and complete in April 2022. More information on the study can be found on the University of Glasgow website.

What were the characteristics of violent crime?

The majority of violent crime took place in public settings in 2019/20.

When locations are combined into broader categories,[29] the SCJS estimates that over three-fifths (63%) of violent incidents in 2019/20 occurred in a public setting, with the remainder taking place in a private space. This is similar to the finding in 2008/09 (67%), where violent incidents were also more likely to take place in public settings, but different to the finding in 2018/19 (46%) where no difference was detected in the proportion of violent crimes taking place in a public and a private space. The 2019/20 finding is back in line with findings for previous years, suggesting that the result from 2018/19 may have been an outlier in an otherwise stable trend.

Figure 3.9 looks at particular locations more closely and demonstrates that violent crime was experienced in a variety of settings in 2019/20.

Figure 3.9: Proportion of violent crime incidents occurring in different locations
Chart showing proportion of violent crime incidents occurring in different locations

Base: Violent crime incidents (130). Variables: QWH1 / QWH3 / QWH5 / QWH7.

A similar proportion of violent crimes took place during the week and at the weekend.

Where respondents provided details about when an incident occurred,[30] a similar proportion occurred during the week and at the weekend[31] with just over half (53%) of violent crimes happened during the week and 47% taking place at the weekend.

Most violent crime was not believed to be motivated by any discriminatory factor.

Although the SCJS did not ask directly about hate crime, respondents who had experienced violent crime were asked if they believed the incident was, or might have been, motivated by a range of motivating factors.[32] The majority (86%) of violent crimes in 2019/20 were thought to have been motivated by none of these factors. Harassment and discrimination is discussed in more detail in Section 8.2.

Most violent crime did not involve a cyber element.

Respondents who had experienced violent crime were asked if the incident involved the internet, any type of online activity or an internet enabled device. This question was first asked in the 2018/19 SCJS. In 2019/20, 6% of violent crime incidents involved a cyber element, higher than the proportion in 2018/19 (1%). It will be important to monitor this in the future. Cyber crime is discussed in more detail in Section 8.1.

What do we know about perpetrators of violent crime?

In 97% of violent incidents reported in 2019/20, respondents were able to provide some information about the offender. The section below presents headline results on the details provided.[33] All findings are proportions of cases where respondents were able to say something about the person or people who carried out the offence, unless otherwise stated.

Almost three-in-four violent crimes were committed by male offenders.

The SCJS results highlight that the majority of violent crimes in 2019/20 (73%) were carried out by male offenders only - a consistent finding over the years. A further 19% of incidents involved female offenders only, whilst in 8% of cases both men and women were responsible.[34]

Violent incidents most commonly involved offenders under the age of 40.

Figure 3.10 shows that violent crimes involved people from a range of age groups and suggests that perpetrators tend to be from younger cohorts,[35] while only 20% involved any offenders aged 40 or over. This finding is consistent with previous years, though the proportion of incidents involving people from the individual age categories tends to show fluctuation from year to year.

Figure 3.10: Proportion of violent crime incidents involving offenders of each age group
Chart showing proportion of violent crime incidents involving offenders of each age group

Base: Violent crime incidents where respondent could say something about offender (130). Variable: QDAGE.

Violent crimes often involved offenders who victims knew or had seen before.

Most violent incidents (70%) in 2019/20 were committed by people who the victims knew or had seen before. Where offenders were known by the victim, just under two-thirds of incidents (63%) were said to have involved people 'known well'.

Those who said they knew the offender in some way were asked about their relationship to the offender.[36] Figure 3.11 shows the range of relationships between victims and offenders.

Figure 3.11: Relationship of offender to victim as a proportion of violent incidents where the offender was known in some way
Chart showing offender/victim relationship as a proportion of violent incidents with offender known

Base: Violent crime incidents where respondent knew the offender (80). Variable: QRE2.

Note: 'Current or former partner' includes any current or former husband, wife, partner, boyfriend or girlfriend. 'Other relative' includes any son or daughter (in law) or other relative. 'Work related' includes any client or member of the public contacted through work, or a workmate/colleague.

When considering these findings, it is important to note that victims of partner abuse may not report such experiences through the face-to-face element of the SCJS. As such, questions on experiences of partner abuse (covering both physical and psychological abuse) are answered in a self-completion element of the survey - with the latest key findings on this topic from 2018/19 and 2019/20 combined presented in Section 9.3.

What do we know about the role of alcohol, drugs and weapons in violent crime?

Over two-fifths of violent crimes involved offenders under the influence of alcohol in 2019/20.

Offenders were believed to be under the influence of alcohol in 44% of violent incidents where victims were able to say something about the offender in 2019/20. This figure is lower than the estimate in 2008/09 (63%) and 2018/19 (59%). Alcohol remains a factor in a sizeable proportion of violent incidents and it will be important to monitor this in future to see if a similar trend is continued.

As shown in Figure 3.12 below, it should be noted that in 14% of violent incidents (where victims were able to say something about the offender) the victim did not know if the offender was under the influence of alcohol or not.

Figure 3.12: [37] Proportion of violent crime with offenders perceived to be under the influence of alcohol
Chart showing proportion of violent crime with offenders perceived as under the influence of alcohol

Base: Violent crime incidents where respondent could say something about offender (130). Variable: QAL.

For wider context on the role of alcohol in violent crime, victims reported having consumed alcohol immediately before the incident in 20% of cases of all violent crime in 2019/20.

Relatedly, victims reported that just under one-in-three violent crimes (30%) involved offenders who were thought to be under the influence of drugs in 2019/20, unchanged from 2008/09 and 2018/19.

Combining this data, in 2019/20 it was found that offenders were believed to be under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs in just over half (55%) of violent incidents where the victims were able to say something about the offender. This is a decrease on both the proportion in 2008/09 (68%) and 2018/19 (78%). This will be an area to monitor in the future.

Violent crime in 2019/20 did not commonly involve the presence of weapons.

Where a violent incident involved someone seeing or hearing what was going on (i.e. the victim themselves or another witness, which was the case in 97% of incidents), further questions were asked about the presence of a weapon. In 2019/20, 19% of such incidents were said to have involved perpetrators with weapons, unchanged from 2010/11 (when the wording of this question was updated to its current format) and from 2018/19.

When combining categories (in a similar way to the police recorded crime statistics) the SCJS found that bladed/pointed articles[38] were used in 5% of violent incidents where someone saw or heard what was happening, unchanged from 2018/19. However, due to the small sample sizes, the sub-groups of this category are prone to fluctuations. For example, whilst in 2018/19 the SCJS found 4% of these crimes involved a screwdriver, no such crimes were detected in 2019/20, and conversely, no knife crimes were detected in the 2018/19 SCJS, while 5% involved a knife in 2019/20.

Expanding the evidence on knife crime

Over the past ten years there has been a reduction in the prevalence of weapon-carrying or the use of weapons to commit violent crime in Scotland. Despite an increase in recent years, police recorded crimes of possessing, but not using, an offensive weapon were around half the levels in 2019/20 than they were in 2008/09.

A specific study into police recorded crime found that reductions in the type of violence that typically results in more severe physical injuries, have been driven in part by fewer cases involving the use of a weapon. For example, for both Attempted murder & serious assault and Robbery, the estimated number of crimes that involved the use of a weapon fell by more between 2008/09 and 2017/18, than those that did not involve any weapon. More information can be found in the Scottish Government report on non-sexual violence in Scotland.

In addition to police recorded crime, the number of hospital admissions due to assault with a sharp object have fallen by over half (53% or 750 cases), from 1,415 in 2008/09 to 665 in 2018/19.[39]

What was the impact of violent crime?

Around three-fifths of violent incidents resulted in injury, although serious injuries were relatively uncommon.

Where violent crime resulted in some sort of injury (62% of incidents), the most common injury sustained was minor bruising or a black eye (74%). More serious injuries like broken bones and internal injuries occurred much less frequently, as shown in Figure 3.13.[40]

Figure 3.13: Type of injuries sustained as a proportion of violent incidents resulting in injury
Chart showing type of injuries sustained as a proportion of violent incidents resulting in injury

Base: Violent crime incidents where respondent was injured (70). Variable: QINW.

Almost half of respondents reported feeling shock, annoyance and anger as emotional reactions towards the violent crime they experienced.

In just under half of incidents, the emotional impacts reported by victims of violent crime in 2019/20 were shock (reported in 46% of violent incidents), annoyance (45%) and anger (44%). Victims in just over a tenth of incidents (12%) said they experienced no emotional impacts, similar to the level in 2008/09 (10%) and in 2018/19 (11%).

What proportion of violent crime was reported to the police?

Just under half of violent incidents in 2019/20 were reported to the police.

The 2019/20 SCJS estimates that almost half of violent incidents (48%) were brought to the attention of the police, whilst 52% were not. The reporting rate in 2019/20 was unchanged compared to the rate in any SCJS year since 2008/09, but higher than the reporting rate for property crime in 2019/20 (36%).

There can be a range of factors which influence whether or not an individual reports a crime to the police, not least how the victim views their own experience. The SCJS found that in just over half of violent incidents in 2019/20 (55%) victims thought their experience should be described as 'a crime', as shown in Figure 3.14 below. Almost three-quarters (71%) of incidents which victims considered to be a crime were brought to the attention of the police in 2019/20.

Figure 3.14: Victim's description of violent crime incidents experienced
Chart showing victim's description of violent crime incidents experienced

Base: Violent crime incidents (130). Variable: QCRNO.

When asked directly why they did not report their experience to the police, victims cited a range of reasons. These included that:

  • the experience was reported to other authorities/organisations (26%)
  • the issue was considered a private, personal or family matter (22%)
  • the matter was dealt with personally by the victim (21%)
  • the belief that the police could have done nothing (16%)

In addition to the options listed in the survey, 'other' reasons were cited in 19% of cases.

Where incidents did come to the attention of the police, victims received information or assistance about the investigation and the case (where relevant) from the police in almost three-fifths of instances (59%). This is unchanged from 2018/19, but up from 2008/09 (32%). Respondents received information or assistance from the Witness Service/Victim Support Scotland in relation to 12% of incidents, from the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service/Victim Information and Advice service in 9%. Victims said they had not received information or assistance from any organisation in 4% of cases, whilst a further 25% of incidents were not investigated according to the victim. Respondents' views of the police and the justice system are discussed in more detail in the Public perceptions of the police and the justice system chapter.

What consequences did victims believe offenders should have faced?

Just under half of victims of violent crime thought the offender should have gone to court, but views varied on what action would have been appropriate.

Regardless of whether the incident was reported to the police, victims in 46% of violent crimes thought the offender should have been prosecuted in court. This proportion has shown no significant change since 2008/09 or in the latest year, but is lower than the proportion of property crime victims in 2019/20 who thought offenders should have been prosecuted in court (58%).

Just under a third (30%) of those who did not think court was appropriate said nothing should have happened to the offender, whilst one-in-four (25%) thought the offender should have apologised for what they had done. Only 5% thought offenders should have been given some kind of help to stop them offending. Respondents' views of the criminal justice system are discussed in more detail in Chapter 6.


Contact

Email: scjs@gov.scot