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Scottish Victimisation Telephone Survey 2020: main findings

Main findings from the Scottish Victimisation Telephone Survey 2020.

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2. Overview of crime in Scotland

This chapter includes:

  • Estimates for the total number of crime incidents and the proportion of people experiencing crime
  • Comparisons of experiences of crime by gender, age, area deprivation, rurality, and key worker status
  • The likelihood of experiencing more than one crime
  • The proportion of crimes that were reported to the police

2.1 What was the extent and prevalence of crime in Scotland?

The SVTS estimates that overall there were 445,000 crimes experienced by adults in Scotland between September 2019 and September 2020.

The Scottish Victimisation Telephone Survey (SVTS) provides an estimate of the number of crimes (or incidence) occurring within Scotland, rounded to the nearest 1,000 crimes. The SVTS estimates that overall there were 445,000 crimes experienced by adults in Scotland between the start of September 2019 and the end of September 2020.

As a sample survey of the general public, SVTS results are estimated values with margins of error, rather than exact counts. Further information on the process used to calculate estimates is contained within the Technical Report. Taking into account confidence intervals, the SVTS estimates that there were between 328,000 and 561,000 incidents of crime in Scotland.

Around one-in-eleven (9%) adults in Scotland had experienced crime between September 2019 and September 2020.

Most adults (91%) were not victims of any crime between September 2019 and September 2020, with around one-in-eleven (9%) adults in Scotland experiencing crime over this time period.

As with incident numbers, crime prevalence rates are also estimates derived from a sample survey of the population with associated margins of error around them. Taking into account these confidence intervals, between 7% and 11% of the adult population were estimated to have experienced at least one SVTS crime.

The SVTS collects data on the adult population's experiences of two main types of crime – property and violent crime (see Section 1.4). It is estimated that around two-thirds (67%) of all crime measured by the SVTS was property-related, with the remaining third (33%) being violent crime. This means the survey estimates that, rounded to the nearest 1,000 crimes, there was a total of 299,000 property crimes and 145,000 violent crimes in the period covered by the survey. It is estimated that 8% of adults were victims of a property crime, and 2% experienced a violent crime.

Crime fell significantly after the UK's first national lockdown, compared with the six months before.

As outlined above, incidents of crime were classified as having occurred before or after the UK's first national lockdown on the 23rd March 2020, two periods of almost equal length[16]. It is estimated that approximately three-in-five (61%, 269,000) crimes occurred before the lockdown, and two-in-five (39%, 176,000) occurred after the lockdown, meaning that crime fell significantly after the start of the UK's first national lockdown. This equates to an estimated fall in crime of approximately 35% over this time period.

It is only possible to report this measure for all crimes (rather than for any sub-groups, including property and violent crime), due to the small sample sizes of the specific crime types and the associated larger margins of error.

2.2 How did the likelihood of experiencing crime vary across the population?

The likelihood of experiencing crime was higher for those living in urban areas.

Adults living in urban areas were more likely to have been a victim of crime than those living in rural areas (10% compared to 5%). Whereas, those aged 60 and over were less likely to have been a victim of crime compared to all other age groups.

Figure 2.1: Proportion of adults experiencing crime measured by the SVTS
Chart showing the proportion of adults experiencing crime measured by the SVTS, by age and rurality

Base: SVTS 2020 (2,654). Variables: PREVSURVEYCRIME, QDAGE, TABURBRUR.

These findings were also true when looking at property crime with those living in an urban area more likely to experience property crime than those living in rural areas (9%, compared to 3% and those aged 60 and over less likely to be a victim of property crime than those aged 16 to 24 (4% compared to 16%).

There was no statistically significant difference in the likelihood of experiencing crime (both all crime and property crime[17]) between men and women, nor between those living in the 15% most deprived areas and those living elsewhere. There was also no difference in the victimisation rate of those who were key workers and those who were not key workers when looking at working age adults only (as defined in Annex D).

2.3 What can the SVTS tell us about multiple victimisation?

The SVTS also enables us to further explore how experiences varied amongst victims and examine the concentration of crime, including what proportion of victims experienced more than one crime (of any type). This is known as 'multiple victimisation'.

Multiple victimisation examines the proportion of the population which experienced two or more property crimes or two or more violent crimes (known as repeat victimisation), or have been victims of both crime types (i.e. two or more incidents of any crime).

It is estimated that 3% of adults experienced multiple victimisation, which accounted for around three-fifths (61%) of all SVTS crimes.

As discussed above, the majority of adults (91%) were not victims of any crime between September 2019 and September 2020, with around one-in-eleven (9%) adults in Scotland experiencing crime over this time period.

Examining the volume of crime experienced by individual victims more closely shows that 6% of adults in Scotland were a victim of a single incident of SVTS crime. The total number of crimes experienced by those experiencing one incident only accounted for 39% of all crime.

It is estimated that 3% of adults experienced multiple victimisation, which accounted for around three-fifths (61%) of all SVTS crimes.

Table 2.1 shows these results in more detail.

Table 2.1: Proportion of all SVTS crime experienced by victims, by number of crimes
Number of crimes % of population % of SVTS crime
None 91% 0%
One 6% 39%
Two 2% 27%
Three 1% 15%
Four 0% 3%
Five or more 0% 17%
Two or more 3% 61%

Base: SVTS 2020 (2,654). Variables: INCSURVEYCRIME, PREVSURVEYCRIME.

Looking only at property crime, the SVTS found that 6% of adults in Scotland were a victim of a single incident of property crime. The total number of property crimes experienced by those who experienced one incident accounted for 43% of all property crime.

The proportion of adults in Scotland who experienced more than one incident of property crime (otherwise known as repeat victims of property crime) was 2%. The total number of crimes experienced by those repeat victims of property crime accounted for 57% of all property crime.

Table 2.2 shows these results in more detail.

Table 2.2: Proportion of SVTS property crime experienced by victims, by number of property crimes
Number of crimes % of population % of SVTS property crime
None 92% 0%
One 6% 43%
Two 1% 26%
Three 0% 12%
Four 0% 3%
Five or more 0% 15%
Two or more 2% 57%

Base: SVTS 2020 (2,654). Variables: INCPROPERTY, PREVPROPERTY.

2.4 What proportion of crimes were reported to the police?

Around two-in-five (41%) crimes came to the attention of the police.

The SVTS estimates that 41% of crimes came to the attention of the police in some way. Looking at property and violent crime individually, it is estimated that 38% of property crime and 46% of violent crime came to the attention of the police.

Regardless of whether the incident was reported to the police or not, around half (48%) of victims thought the offender should have been prosecuted in court. The most common reasons cited for why the offender should not have been prosecuted for the offence were that the incident was too trivial (23%) or that it was a personal or private matter that the victim would deal with themselves (21%).

Contact

Email: scjs@gov.scot

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