Scottish Government Equality Outcomes: Age Evidence Review

This evidence review was prepared to support the production of the Scottish Government's Equality Outcomes, with regard to age.

8 Victims of Crime

8.1 This section explores the incidence of crime, with reference to the ages of the victims and the perpetrators. It covers violent crime, hate crime, racist incidents, and religiously aggravated offending. The section closes with a look at social attitudes towards age.

Incidence of violent crime

8.2 The EHRC Triennial Review[111] reports that children aged under one are more likely to die as a result of homicide than any other age group in England and Wales. However, in 2008/09, the rate was half that of a decade ago. On average one child aged under 16 died as a result of cruelty or violence each week in England and Wales in 2008/09 - two-thirds of them aged under five.

8.3 Trend data suggest that homicide victimisation rates among adults peak before the age of 30. In England and Wales, the rate for victims aged 16-29 in 2008/09 was 21 per million: in Scotland, the rate for victims aged 16-30 was higher at 34 per million - see Figure 10[112].

Figure 10: Homicide rates per million population by victim age in Scotland, 2008/09

Figure 10: Homicide rates per million population by victim age in Scotland, 2008/09

Hate crime

8.4 In England and Wales, the Crown Prosecution Service has started to recognise a category of hate crime against older people - defined broadly to cover a range of offences where the advanced age of the victim is relevant, either because the crime exploits an older person's vulnerability or because it is linked to hostility because of a person's age. The volume of cases referred to the Crown Prosecution Service by the police has risen year on year and 2,213 defendants were charged in 2010/11, an increase of 44% on the previous year[113].

8.5 Regarding the ages of the perpetrators, the legislation for the more recent categories of hate crime (disability, sexual orientation and transgender identity) came into force on 24 March 2010; therefore there is little available data on the age of people charged with disability, sexual orientation and transgender identity aggravated crime. A recent publication on hate crime[114], however, contains information on numbers of offenders referred to Children's Reporter. Using this category as a proxy for 'under 16', we know that 3% of people charged in 2011/12 with disability aggravated crime were under 16; 1% of people charged in 2011/12 with sexual orientation aggravated crime were under 16; and that 16 people (close to 0%) under 16 were charged in 2011/12 with transgender identity aggravated crime.

Racist incidents

8.6 Racist incidents data collected by the Police[115] shows that 5,902 individuals were recorded as victims of racist incidents in Scotland in 2010-11. Three quarters of victims of racist incidents recorded in 2010-11 were male (where age and gender was known). Among male victims, 36% of those who were a victim of a racist incident recorded in 2010-11 were aged 26-35, with this being the most common age group for male victims. However, the most common age group for female victims were those aged 36 to 50, with 31% of female victims being in this age group. Overall, of those who were victims of a racist incident recorded in 2010-11, 14% were aged 20 or under (see Table 10 in the Racist Incidents Recorded by the Police[116] publication for further details).

8.7 The same report shows that around 46% of perpetrators in 2010-11 were aged 20 or under, with 23% of perpetrators under the age of 16 (see Table 14 in the Racist Incidents[117] report for further details).

8.8 These statistics do not record every occurrence of racist incidents in Scotland. The 2010-11 Scottish Crime and Justice Survey estimated that approximately 39% of all crimes came to the attention of the police.

8.9 Macpherson & Bond (2009)[118] noted that evidence from a study on ethnic minority young people in Edinburgh and Glasgow highlights that the situation in Scotland has been very different to England, as a result of a smaller ethnic minority population and a positive relationship historically between police and elders within ethnic minority communities. The study observed, however, that many ethnic minority people accept verbal racist harassment as part of everyday life - so much so that they would not normally consider reporting it to the police.

Religiously aggravated offending

8.10 There were 897 charges with a religious aggravation reported in 2011-12, 29% more than in 2010-11[119]. In 2010-11 95% of the charges related to males and 58% of all accused were between the ages of 16 and 30. People aged under 16 and over 60 constituted a very small minority of offenders (3.5% and 2.5% respectively)[120].

Social Attitudes

8.11 The Scottish Social Attitudes Survey (2010) report[121] presents key findings from a study of public attitudes towards discrimination and positive action. The findings show that 75% of respondents thought it would be wrong to make people retire at a given age - a figure almost unchanged since the 2006 survey - while just 22% felt that "older people ought to be forced to retire to make way for younger people". However, these results vary with context: even among those who disagreed with making people retire at a certain age, 35% felt that someone aged 70 would be unsuitable for primary school teaching. This number has dropped form 49% in 2006.


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