Statistical Bulletin Crime and Justice Series: Criminal Proceedings in Scottish Courts, 2006/07

Criminal Proceedings in Scottish Courts 2006-07

3. Commentary: Criminal Court Proceedings in Context ( Table 1, Chart 2)

3.1 Chart 2 and Table 1 provide a summary of known action in the criminal justice system. The total number of crimes recorded by the police in 2006/07 was 419,300, less than half of one per cent more than in 2005/06. The total remains well below the 2004/05 figure of 438,100, and is generally lower than figures over the last quarter century where there have been only 4 years with lower totals. The number of crimes cleared up by the police increased by 4 per cent from 190,900 in 2005/06 to 199,000 in 2006/07. The number of offences recorded by the police increased by 1 per cent from 599,900 in 2005/06 to 607,400 in 2006/07.

3.2 "Clear-ups" do not necessarily result in a report being made by the police to the procurator fiscal. For example, where the alleged offender is a child, a referral will normally be made to the Reporter to the Children's Panel. The vehicle defect rectification scheme operated by police forces offers the owners of defective vehicles the opportunity to avoid a report being made to the procurator fiscal, and the consequent possibility of court proceedings, by having their vehicle repaired within a given period. An alternative to court proceedings for moving motor vehicle offences is the police conditional offer of a fixed penalty. In 2006/07 there were an estimated 223,500 police conditional offers, 7 per cent less than in 2005/06. It is not known how many alleged offenders are dealt with informally by the police or by other agencies, rather than the procurator fiscal.

3.3 Referrals or reports may often include more than one crime or offence, and in the case of reports to the procurator fiscal may also involve more than one person. There is thus no direct relationship between the number of crimes and offences recorded by the police and the number of disposals resulting from the action of other agencies within the criminal justice system. In addition, many offences such as Wireless Telegraphy Act or Communications Act offences (failure to pay a television licence) are not recorded by the police in the first instance. Where crimes or offences are recorded and cleared up by the police, procurator fiscal or other action does not necessarily occur in the same year. In 2006/07, the number of reports received by the procurator fiscal was just over 329,900, a decrease of 3 per cent compared with 2005/06.

3.4 Prosecution in court is only one of a range of possible options the procurator fiscal has for dealing with persons who have been charged. Other actions include the use of fiscal warnings, diversion to social work, the use of conditional offers of a fixed penalty for a range of motor vehicle offences, the "fiscal fine" for less serious non-motor vehicle offences, sending cases to the Reporter to the Children's Panel or a decision to take no proceedings.

Chart 2: Overview of action within the criminal justice system 2006/07 1

Chart 2: Overview of action within the criminal justice system 2006/07

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