User Guide to Recorded Crime Statistics in Scotland

Provides detailed information on the Recorded Crime in Scotland statistical bulletin series. It is designed to be a useful reference guide with explanatory notes regarding issues and classifications which are crucial to the production and presentation of crime statistics in Scotland.

25. Users and uses of recorded crime statistics

The Recorded Crime in Scotland bulletin is the primary source of detailed and reliable information on recorded crimes and offences in Scotland. The recorded crime data are a high profile justice issue which attracts considerable media and political interest.

25.1 Users of recorded crime statistics

Recorded crime statistics are used throughout the Scottish Government, as well as by a variety of stakeholders including local authorities, Police, Scottish Prison Service, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), local and central government, community partnerships, charities and support groups, academics, students, private sector organisations and interested members of the public.

The Scottish Government engages with a range of users in different ways. This can include consultations on the Scottish Government website; in person at User Days; meetings of the ScotStat Crime and Justice Committee; or internal Scottish Government analytical seminars. Users are also engaged via: email; ScotStat emails; direct correspondence with individuals; and telephone correspondence.

25.2 Uses of recorded crime statistics

There are expert and non-expert users of crime statistics in all sectors, and from evidence gathered at previous Scottish Government crime statistics user events, it appears that there is little or no association between the level of expertise and the reason why the statistics are used. Level of expertise is more related to how focussed on the crime statistics the user is – in other words, users whose work is focussed heavily on crime statistics tend to be more expert than those whose use of crime statistics is only a small part of their job.

The statistics are of interest to government and opposition politicians, and are frequently used by the media to inform the general public about crime and policing. They are also used by third sector organisations to monitor trends and support advocacy work and by Local Authorities to monitor trends and progress.

For further information on how are publications are used, please see the Consultation section.

25.2.1 Police Scotland

Crime data assists analysis of crime patterns, trends and fluctuations and support the National Intelligence Model. Accurate crime data illustrates to the police service, ministers, Local Government and the public at large how the police are performing and identifies areas, if any, which require greater resourcing.

Analysis of high-quality crime data allows the police to establish where, when, and how often crime is happening. This ensures they are best able to:

  • tackle crime and the causes of crime;
  • analyse crime patterns, trends and fluctuations;
  • plan their work to achieve the best outcomes for victims and communities;
  • provide the public, Government, local policing bodies and HMICS with an accurate picture of crime in a particular area;
  • illustrate to the service and the public how Police Scotland is performing; and
  • provide the victims of crime with appropriate access to victim services.

25.2.2 Central and Local Government

Users within the Scottish Government and local authorities use recorded crime statistics to inform elected members about:

  • progress, to aid strategic assessment of crimes and priorities;
  • which communities need focussed attention; and
  • which crimes need focussed attention.

The Scottish Government and Local Authorities also use recorded crime statistics to inform colleagues, stakeholders and members of the public about:

  • progress, e.g. using the crime statistics as progress indicators and/or to contextualise other information and sources of evidence about delivery of outcomes;
  • changes and trends over time, to support development of policies and initiatives to improve outcomes; and
  • interactions with other policy developments and initiatives. For example, with health issues (particularly regarding drugs and alcohol), and when assessing the likely impact of bringing more people into an area e.g. during an application to build affordable housing.

Recorded crime statistics are also used to predict the impact of changes in policies, as well as benchmarking and monitoring.

The recorded crime data are also used to answer Parliamentary Questions, Ministerial Correspondence and Freedom of Information requests as well as to provide briefing material to ministers. The data are also used in Scottish Government campaigns, such as No Knives, Better Lives. In addition, recorded crime data are annually supplied for inclusion in international compendiums, such as the Eurostat Crime and Criminal Justice Statistics and the United Nations Survey on Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice Systems.

In addition, the Scottish Government responds to requests from various groups, such as students looking for information to aid their studies, and private sector organisations, ranging from insurance companies who wish to know about crime in different parts of Scotland to utilities providers who want to ensure the safety of their employees before they visit particular areas. The 2022 Vision for Justice in Scotland

The Vision for Justice in Scotland was published in February 2022. It updated the 2017 Justice Vision and Priorities published in 2017 and sets out a transformative vision for the whole justice system in Scotland. The 2022 strategy outlines how we will transform the justice system, through recovering from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. A delivery plan for Year 1 (2022-23) was also published in February 2022. Both the Vision and the Year 1 Delivery Plan were developed in close consultation with partners, including Police Scotland, COPFS and third sector groups. The development of the aims and outcomes of the document were supported by evidence from a range of sources, including the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey, Recorded Crime data, and evidence provided from across teams within Justice Analytical Services.

The new strategy sets out three key priorities – making sure victims voices are heard, placing women and children at the heart of service delivery and reassessing the role that prisons and the use of imprisonment should play. The 2022 Justice Vision will be accompanied by a measurement framework and a Years 2-4 Delivery plan, which will set out the actions we intend to take to achieve the aims and outcomes of the strategy. These are currently in development.

For more information please see the following - The Vision for Justice in Scotland - ( Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation

Recorded crime data are used in the development of the crime domain of the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD). The data used to compile the SIMD crime domain are a subset of all crimes and offences. Note that the current SIMD uses data collected under the old grouping classification,those crimes and offences included are shown below:

SIMD crime domain: crimes and offences

Group 1: Non-sexual crimes of violence


  • Murder
  • Attempted murder
  • Culpable homicide (common law)
  • Causing death by dangerous driving
  • Death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs
  • Causing death by careless driving
  • Illegal driver involved in fatal accident
  • Corporate homicide
  • Serious assault
  • Causing serious injury etc. by culpable and reckless conduct
  • Robbery and assault with intent to rob
  • Threats and extortion
  • Cruel and unnatural treatment of children
  • Child stealing (plagium)
  • Exposing child under 7 to risk of burning
  • Abortion
  • Concealment of pregnancy
  • Possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life, commit crime etc.
  • Abduction
  • Ill treatment of mental patients
  • Cruel and unnatural treatment of an adult
  • Drugging
  • Chemical weapon offences
  • Female genital mutilation
  • Offences relating to Serious Organised Crime (now obsolete code)

Group 2: Sexual crimes


  • Rape (crime prior to 1 December 2010)
  • Rape of male (16+)
  • Rape of female (16+)
  • Rape of older male child (13-15 years)
  • Rape of older female child (13-15 years)
  • Rape of young male child (under 13)
  • Rape of young female child (under 13)
  • Attempted rape (crime prior to 1 December 2010)
  • Attempted rape male (16+)
  • Attempted rape female (16+)
  • Attempted rape older male child (13-15)
  • Attempted rape older female child (13-15)
  • Attempted rape young male child (under 13)
  • Attempted rape young female child (under 13)
  • Illegal homosexual acts
  • Bestiality
  • Assault to commit unnatural crimes

Group 3: Crimes of dishonesty


  • Theft by housebreaking domestic property (dwelling and non-dwelling)
  • Housebreaking with intent to steal domestic property (dwelling and non-dwelling)
  • Attempted housebreaking with intent to enter and steal domestic property (dwelling and non-dwelling)

Group 4: Fire-raising, vandalism etc.


  • Fire-raising
  • Muirburn
  • Reckless conduct with firearms
  • Flying aircraft to the danger of life or property
  • Endangering rail passengers
  • Reckless driving at common law
  • Culpable neglect of duty
  • Endangering ship by breach of duty, obtain ship by misrepresentation
  • Computer Misuse Act 1990
  • Culpable and reckless conduct (not with firearms)
  • Vandalism
  • Malicious mischief

Vandalism, reckless damage and malicious mischief (now obsolete code)

Reckless damage (now obsolete code)

Group 5: Other crimes


  • Illegal importation of drugs
  • Production, manufacture or cultivation of drugs
  • Supply, possession with intent to supply etc. of drugs
  • Possession of drugs
  • Drugs, money-laundering offences
  • Drugs, other offences
  • Offences relating to Serious Organised Crime

Group 6: Miscellaneous offences


  • Common assault
  • Common assault of an emergency worker

The data used in the SIMD crime domain are collected via a separate data collection from the standard recorded crime data collection and are subject to a rigorous data quality assurance exercise before they are used in the index. SIMD 2020 was published on 28 January 2020.

The SIMD website, contains further background information on SIMD. Monthly Safer Communities and Justice Brief

The Monthly Safer Communities and Justice Brief contains an up to date summary of the most important statistics across the justice portfolio.

25.2.3 Media

Recorded crime statistics are widely reported in the media, reflecting the public interest in crime and the criminal justice system.

25.2.4 Sector

Users within the Third Sector use recorded crime statistics to:

  • understand progress, changes and trends over time, to support development of policies and initiatives to improve outcomes;
  • influence others by using statistics to support arguments that there are issues needing addressed (e.g. statistics are used to provide evidence that domestic abuse against men is an issue);
  • contextualise other information; and
  • plan.

25.2.5 Academia

Users within academia use recorded crime statistics, as part of a wide range of criminal justice research and for teaching purposes, to:

  • understand and explore changes in society;
  • contextualise qualitative work to deepen and justify arguments; and
  • predict the impact of changes in policies.

25.2.6 Private Sector

Users within the private sector use recorded crime statistics to:

  • assess the risk of areas, before employees are sent to work in these areas, i.e. utility companies; and
  • enhance their products by including crime information, i.e. maps.



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