Statistical Bulletin: Crime and Justice Series: Criminal Proceedings in Scotland, 2010-11

Criminal Proceedings in Scotland 2010-11

3. Review of this bulletin and associated changes

3.1 A wide-ranging review of the content and analysis contained in this bulletin series was conducted during autumn 2009. The results of the review, which include a range of requests for additional information and suggestions for changes, are available on the Scottish Government website.

3.2 Following Summary Justice Reform, and in response to the review, a number of changes were integrated into the 2008-09 and 2009-10 bulletins. Further changes and additions have been incorporated into this 2010-11 bulletin, including the following:

  • An additional table has been included within the bulletin presenting actual numbers of people proceeded against in court by main crime.
  • Tables relating to numbers of convictions and previous convictions (tables 13 and 14 in last year's bulletin) have been removed. Information about previous convictions will in future be available in Reconviction Rates in Scotland.
  • Publication has been brought forward by a further month compared to 2009-10.

3.3 There have been a number of legislative changes throughout 2010-11 which have affected the comparability of some crime groups with previous years. Analyses have been updated where appropriate to reflect these changes.

3.3.1 On 6 October 2010, section 38 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 was implemented. This introduced a new offence to combat threatening or abusive behaviour. Unlike the common law offence of breach of the peace, where it is necessary to show a "public element" to the conduct, there is no requirement in the new offence to demonstrate the offending behaviour was in a public place.

3.3.2 The Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 was implemented on 1 December 2010.

The act repeals a number of common law crimes including rape, clandestine injury to women and sodomy, and replaces them with new statutory sexual offences. The act also created a number of new 'protective' offences, which criminalise sexual activity with children and mentally disordered people. Protective offences are placed into categories concerning young children (under 13) and older children (13-15 years). The new legislation will only apply to offences committed from 1 December 2010, with any offences committed prior to this date recorded using the previous legislation. While the new legislation may result in some increases in Group 2 crime, it is more likely that the effect will be to change the distribution of these crimes among the sub classifications. For example, some crimes previously categorised as lewd and libidinous practices will now be classified as sexual assault. The crime categories within the 'crimes of indecency' grouping have been updated to reflect the current legislative position.

3.4 The Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 will also have an effect on court disposals. Among other things, this act introduced the Community Payback Orders ( CPO) and the presumption against short prison sentences of 3 months or less. CPOs came into force in February 2011, so the impact on the statistics presented in this 2010-11 bulletin will be minimal; however the effect will become more substantial in future years' statistics, and subsequent bulletins will be revised to reflect this.

3.5 In order to more closely align these criminal proceedings statistics with recorded crime statistics, some crime/offence groups have been amended. 'Theft of a motor vehicle' is now reported as a separate category, with 'theft from a motor vehicle' now included in the 'other' crimes of dishonesty category. Motorway and clearway offences have been removed from 'speeding' and placed in the 'other' motor vehicle offence category.

Back to top