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.

4. Statistics from Police Scotland, the Scottish Police Authority and the Scottish Government

Police Scotland, the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) and the Scottish Government all publish police recorded crime data in different ways to meet each organisation’s requirements.

4.1 Police Scotland

Police Scotland publishes management information on an annual and quarterly basis, by local authority and by police division, as well as at a national level.

These reports are produced to demonstrate Police Scotland’s commitment to transparency (alongside other regular reporting activity to the SPA). The information within these reports is presented on a cumulative quarterly basis, with the first quarter of a reporting year containing 3 months of data (from April to June), the second containing 6 months of data (from April to September), etc. The reports are typically published within 2 months of the period to which they refer. Further information is available in the Stage Four - Police Scotland internal and external reports – scrutiny and checking section within the Data suppliers' Quality Assurance principles, standards and quality checks chapter.

The Quarterly Management Information Reports make clear to users that the data they contain on recorded crime is based on the Administrative Data available to Police Scotland at that time and not the National Statistics. The annual National Statistics published by the Scottish Government on police recorded crime are based on the same Administrative Data which has undergone further quality assurance work, including additional dialogue with Police Scotland, in line with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. Further information is available in the Producer's Quality Assurance investigations and documentation chapter.

Police Scotland also provides regular reports to the scrutiny boards of Scotland's 32 local authorities, as well as management information updates to the SPA which are used to inform member discussion at quarterly performance public board meetings and the SPA policing performance committee.

Police Scotland publishes all of these reports on the ‘How we are performing’ section of the Police Scotland website.

4.2 Scottish Police Authority – building the evidence base of policing

The Governance Performance Framework of SPA includes a shared performance framework between SPA and Police Scotland to deliver the objectives of Policing 2026, performance standards to hold the Chief Constable to account, and is underpinned by the seven new Strategic Policing Priorities set out by Scottish Ministers in October 2016.

This Performance Framework gathers evidence on operational policing performance from Police Scotland, SPA Forensic Services and corporate performance activity, as well as relevant external evidence sources, for example academic and government publications, to provide additional and wider information to supplement the existing evidence picture. This provides a quarterly appraisal of both Police Scotland and SPA performance, providing evidence of strategy, operational and organisational delivery.

4.2.1 Reporting against Police Scotland key performance measures

Police Scotland publishes a quarterly performance report on the delivery of key objectives and performance measures contained within the Annual Police Plan. This report, and the data and evidence used to produce it, is analysed and reviewed by the SPA.

Further information on the full public board meetings of the SPA, including the papers, can be accessed on their website.

4.3 Scottish Government

The Scottish Government publishes police recorded crime statistics on a quarterly basis in the Recorded Crime in Scotland bulletin series. During the pandemic the annual bulletin was supplemented by monthly Official Statistics. These have since been discontinued and replaced by a quarterly National Statistics bulletin, of which one will be the main annual bulletin which will contain long term analysis. The statistical return from which most of the figures in the Recorded Crime in Scotland bulletins are taken is a simple count of the numbers of crimes and offences recorded and cleared up by the police in Scotland. Since 2013-14, only data from Police Scotland are included in the main findings and tables of the bulletin. Prior to police reform, the bulletin contained data from the eight legacy police forces. Returns are submitted by the police at local authority level, which allows a national total to be obtained. This was the case both prior to and post police reform.

Additional information on the data included in the Recorded Crime in Scotland bulletin, as well as on how and what the data can be used for, can be found in the Recorded Crime in Scotland Data Sources and Suitability document. Further information is available in the Producer's Quality Assurance investigations and documentation chapter.



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