Scottish Crime and Justice Survey: consultation analysis

Summary of the responses and feedback gathered during the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey consultation and associated discussion events.

This document is part of a collection

8. Themes for Feedback

The consultation document described 8 'themes for feedback'. These themes were: the survey aims, its function as a crime survey, the sample and frequency, new question topics, definition of SCJS crime, comparisons with CSEW, the SCJS and further research, and future proofing. The feedback related to each theme is outlined in the following sections.

8.1 Themes for Feedback - Survey Aims

At present, the aims of the SCJS are to:

  • Enable people in Scotland to tell us about their experiences of, and attitudes to, a range of issues related to crime, policing and the justice system, including crime not reported to the police
  • Provide a valid and reliable measure of adults' experience of crime, including services provided to victims of crime
  • Examine trends over time in the number and nature of crimes in Scotland, providing a complementary measure of crime compared with police recorded crime statistics
  • Examine the varying risk and characteristics of crime for different groups of adults in the population

Respondents were asked how the survey aims might be adapted, extended, or if new aims should be added in order to better align with user needs.

Broad agreement was found for the survey aims, with it often stated the aim of the SCJS should be to capture a representative picture of crime, including unreported crime throughout Scotland. However, some responses questioned the ability of the SCJS to accurately understand the victim experience for individual groups. For example, it has been stated that the inability of the SCJS to disaggregate data into lower-level demographic and geographic sub-groups may mean that the current survey aim 'examine the varying risk and characteristics of crime for different groups of adults in the population' may not be adequately fulfilled at present. Further comments suggested there should be aims related to community justice, public health approaches, and community wellbeing in relation to crime and justice.

8.2 Themes for Feedback - Function as a Crime Survey

Respondents were asked how the survey might better complement the Police Recorded Crime Statistics and evidence three of Scotland's National Indicators, perceptions of crime in the local area, crime victimisation and access to justice.

Regarding the SCJS's function as a crime survey, respondents made comments which covered a range of issues. These comments include:

  • Disaggregation of data would help to understand the experiences of victim groups and their locality in order to better inform the National Indicators.
  • A suggestion was made to capture the precise location of incidents to ensure crimes are attributed to the correct geographical area.
  • To capture victims the survey may otherwise miss, measuring cyber dependent and other cyber enabled crime could be improved.
  • It was proposed that the SCJS should align with Police Scotland's medium-term strategic engagement themes.
  • It was suggested that we should further explore respondent's experiences of the criminal justice system and their perceptions of sentencing (e.g. if sentences reflect the seriousness of the crime)

8.3 Themes for Feedback - Sample & Frequency

Respondents were asked their views on both the design of the survey's sample and its regularity, which operated on an annual basis before the COVID-19 pandemic.

A major theme of the feedback received was the extent to which the current size and representativeness of the sample ensured the survey could meet its stated aims. Comments generally demonstrated that users would highly value having further disaggregated data, in addition to that already provided – and that the current sample size is insufficient at achieving this. There were several areas where more disaggregated data was sought, including by local authority area, ethnicity, age groups (e.g. 16-18 year olds), gender, disability, and the other protected characteristics – and that the development of this information would be important in evidencing progress against several policy objectives.

To add further value to the data produced by the survey, suggestions were made to increase the overall sample size, change the sampling strategy to oversample in deprived areas, or use sample boosts to target particular sub-groups of the population where there is high user interest

Further comments were made in relation to the composition of the sample. Concerns were:

  • The omission of those not living in private residences
  • Not capturing people experiencing homelessness
  • Not capturing people in rehabilitation
  • Potentially missing victims of abuse due to their living circumstances
  • Not including under 16s to explore children's experiences of and exposure to crime.

8.4 Themes for Feedback - New Question Topics

The consultation informed respondents of the current questionnaire length, and therefore the limited capacity to include new topics without removing or rotating out others. However, all respondents were asked to provide input on ideas for new question topics.

Comments were made expressing a need to improve and review the questions on domestic abuse and gender based violence to better understand victimisation, and ensure the survey's wording and questions are in line with current legislation. Specifics areas of abuse were highlighted, such as reviewing how the impact of coercive control is measured, capturing details such as harassment via unwanted gifts, and if it was an abuser who contacted the authorities to report an incident. Also highlighted was a need to expand the collection of cyber crime related data and incidents, with it stated that the survey must separate 'cyber crime' into 'cyber-enabled' and 'cyber-dependent' crime to allow for more detailed analysis. It was suggested that to capture incidents of cyber crime and fraud, the SCJS should consider the victim form used by the Crime Survey England and Wales.

Additional requests for new additions to the survey, or to expand current questioning were also proposed. These suggestions include:

  • Hate crime, and the need to comply with current legislation
  • Timeframes and the impact of this on victims, such as the time taken for decisions by the Police, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and the Courts
  • Further explore views on convictions and sentencing, specifically whether survey respondents feel the 'sentence fits the crime' for a number of different crime types
  • Questions which explore the recommendations from Lady Dorrian's report which reviewed the management of sexual offence cases
  • Better understand the impact of crime, such as on the families of homicide victims
  • Capturing harassment and feelings of safety on public transport
  • Consider the ordering of topics in the self-completion section, such as illicit drug use and partner abuse

8.5 Themes for Feedback - Definition of SCJS Crime

Respondents were informed the current definition of 'All SCJS Crime' includes violent and property crime - views on this definition were welcomed.

Comments were made that to effectively measure crime within Scotland, consideration should be given to include cyber crime within 'All SCJS Crime'. An additional comment stated that (if the scope of 'SCJS crime' remained the same) it may be more accurate to describe 'All SCJS Crime' as 'All SCJS Violent and Property Crime'.

8.6 Themes for Feedback - Comparisons with CSEW

Respondents were asked for views or comments regarding comparisons made between the SCJS and the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW).

There was general agreement that comparisons with CSEW and other nations are positive. However, it was stated that legal definitions can differ between nations, which makes comparisons difficult. Further comments include that disaggregating data by ethnicity would bring Scotland in line with England and Wales, who publish information related to the justice system and ethnicity. Regarding the number of crimes captured, it was stated that the technical approach of the SCJS caps the number of reported crimes at 5, and CSEW has moved to capping at the 98th percentile.

8.7 Themes for Feedback - SCJS & Further Research

Respondents were asked if any aspects of the SCJS might be adapted to better enable users to undertake further research in their area.

Comments stated that a barrier to further research is the inability to disaggregate the data into the sub-group of interest, such as gender, age group, and local authority area. Additional comments questioned the accessibility of the current user materials (such as data availability and format), and awareness and knowledge of the re-contact database.

8.8 Themes for Feedback - Future Proofing

Respondents were informed that in light of the pandemic, and the resulting significant impact on the survey, there is a need to 'future proof' the SCJS. Respondents were asked for views and comments on how this might be achieved.

Regarding future proofing, comments primarily focused on survey methodology. These comments primarily suggested developing a mixed mode design, incorporating online and telephone data collection methods. It was noted that any change in data collection must consider accessibility issues, the quality of data, potential impact to the time-series, and any risk or ethical concerns which may arise through the use of a new survey mode. Comments were also made in relation to survey content, stating that to remain 'future proof', the survey should capture 'new' types of crime, such as cyber crime. It was highlighted that it is necessary to also consider inclusive communications (such as catering for British Sign Language) to ensure all are able to contribute to the survey – and that this should be considered part of the design process, not a retrofit.



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