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Statistical Release Crime and Justice Series: Homicide in Scotland, 2010-11

Statistical Release Crime and Justice Series: Homicide in Scotland, 2010-11

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Annex: Statistical Notes

1.1 The figures within this statistical release provide details on cases of homicide. This includes all crimes of either murder or culpable homicide but excludes all cases of causing death by dangerous driving and causing death by careless driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs. In 2010-11, Scottish police forces recorded a total of 17 crimes of causing death by dangerous driving and causing death by careless driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs (source: Scottish Government, Recorded Crime in Scotland statistical bulletin series).

1.2 The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 came into force on 6 April 2008. This introduced a new offence for convicting an organisation where a gross failure in the way activities have been managed or organised, results in a person's death. This applies to a wide range of organisations across the public and private sectors. In 2010-11, there was a total of two cases of corporate homicide reported by the police in Scotland (source: Scottish Government, Recorded Crime in Scotland statistical bulletin series).

1.3 The summary figures presented in this statistical release derived from information provided by the eight Scottish police forces in respect of each case that is initially recorded as homicide. A single case of homicide is counted for each act of murder or culpable homicide, irrespective of the number of perpetrators or victims.

1.4 A homicide case is included against the year in which it is recorded by the police. This is not necessarily the year in which the crime took place, the year in which the accused is brought to trial for the crime, or the year in which the case is finally disposed of by the courts.

1.5 Where more than one person is accused of committing a homicide, the main accused is taken as the person who received the severest penalty. If more than one possible main accused is identified, then the first person recorded on the statistical return that is submitted annually by the police forces is selected. Similarly, if a person is accused of killing more than one victim, the main victim is the person for whom the accused received the severest penalty. Where more than one possible main victim can be identified, then the first person recorded on the statistical return is selected as the main victim.

1.6 The figures provided in this statistical release are as known to the Scottish Government in December 2011. The initial classification of a case as murder or culpable homicide is made by the police. This classification may be altered as a result of decisions taken during the course of criminal proceedings. For example, it may be determined that a homicide did not take place if an accused person is found guilty of a lesser charge in court (such as serious assault); or where it has been concluded by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service ( COPFS) that a victim actually committed suicide and that no further criminal proceedings are required. Hence, some cases initially classified as homicide will, on the basis of criminal proceedings, no longer be classified as such at a later date. For this reason, and as a result of continual data checking, trend data may differ slightly from year-to-year. In addition, late data returns may occasionally be submitted by police forces which will result in revisions to the next issue of this statistical release

1.7 When considering the relationship of the main accused person to the victim, the term "partner or ex-partner" includes: spouse, separated or divorced spouse, cohabitee, lover, boy/girlfriend and ex-boy/girlfriend. Prior to 2000-01, this category did not necessarily include ex-boy/girlfriend as these were occasionally recorded as "acquaintances".

1.8 The motive behind committing a homicide is as determined by the police. For simplicity of presentation, only one motive for killing is selected for each accused person. However, for homicides recorded before 2000, information was collected on up to two motives. Where more than one motive was provided, the first one was selected as the main motive. Similarly, only one method of killing has been selected for each victim. The main method is taken to be the most serious of those methods recorded. Methods of killing have been ranked in the following order of priority: shooting, sharp instrument, blunt instrument, hitting and kicking, strangulation/asphyxiation, drowning, fire, poisoning and other/unknown. The term "sharp instrument" includes knives, broken bottles, swords, sharpened screwdrivers and any other pointed or edged weapons. The main method of "poisoning" includes the use of drugs, gas and carbon monoxide poisoning.

1.9 It has not been possible to carry out the matching of homicide police returns with court proceedings data since 2006-07 due to data matching issues which have been identified. Consequently, there may be a small overcount of the number of cases currently recorded as homicide as the classification of some cases could have altered as a result of decisions taken during the course of criminal proceedings. This area of work is currently being investigated by Justice Analytical Services and data users will be notified of any resulting outcomes through ScotStat.

1.10 Population data are derived from relevant mid-year population estimates prepared by the General Register Office for Scotland: http://www.gro-scotland.gov.uk/statistics/theme/population/estimates/mid-year/index.html

1.11 Only a limited selection of tables are included in this statistical release. However, further analysis of homicide statistics can be supplied upon request. This includes available information relating to a different time period than that covered in this statistical release. In certain cases, a fee may be charged for additional information. For details of what can be provided, please telephone Justice Analytical Services on 0131 244 2635 or e-mail JusticeStatistics@scotland.gsi.gov.uk.

1.12 The following symbol is used throughout the tables in this statistical release:

- = nil

1.13 Under the Code of Practice for Official Statistics, the estimated costs of responding to statistical surveys and data collection are to be published. The estimated cost of compliance for supplying and validating the data for this statistical release is £300 based upon information provided by six of the eight Scottish police forces. Details of the calculation methodology are available on the Scottish Government Crime and Justice website at:

www.Scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Crime-Justice/costcalculation

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