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Recorded Crime Statistics in Scotland: user guide

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


7. No criming

Some crimes recorded by the police are subsequently 'no crimed', where it is determined by the police that no crime actually took place. The Scottish Crime Recording Standard (SCRS) sets out circumstances under which a crime report may be 'no crimed'. Further information is available in the SCRS chapter.

A crime, once recorded, should be classified as a 'No Crime' if one of the following criteria is satisfied:

  • Following the report of an incident and a crime recorded, additional credible information becomes available which determines that no crime has been committed.
  • The crime was committed outside the jurisdiction of Police Scotland.
  • The crime was committed in another Police Scotland division and has been transferred to that division for recording.
  • A procedural error has been made for a non-victim based crime/offence, e.g. Section 1 warning not given for Road Traffic Offence, mistake made on an Anti‑Social Behaviour Fixed Penalty Notice (ASBFPN) or a Conditional Offer Fixed Penalty Notice (COFPN).

The term 'No Crime' relates to crimes already recorded, and is therefore distinct from incident reports that are not crimed (i.e. not recorded as crimes in the first place). It should be noted that 'No Crime' is a final disposal and should not be applied as an interim measure to any recorded crime. The 'No Crime' rule can be applied to crimes/offences recorded at any time during the financial year and may include crimes/offences reported in previous financial years. The Crime Registrar is the final arbiter for all 'No Crimes'. The reason for the 'No Crime' must be explained in detail in the crime/incident report along with the details of the requesting and authorising officer. For further information please see Section E of the SCRS.

The SCRS states:

Once recorded, a crime will remain recorded unless there is credible evidence to disprove that a crime had occurred.

Crime reports that are 'no crimed' are removed from police crime data and thus from the police recorded crime statistics. The majority of 'no crime' decisions are made by the police before data are submitted to the Scottish Government.

Great care is needed in interpreting 'no crime' data. The proportion of 'no crimes' does not in itself infer high or low compliance with the overall requirements of the SCRS. Levels of 'no criming' are particularly susceptible to local recording practice and the IT systems in use. A Police Scotland division having a high level of 'no crimes' may be indicative of that division having a local recording process that captures all reports as crimes at the first point of contact and before any further investigation has taken place to consider the full facts. Equally a division with a low level of 'no crimes' might be indicative of a recording practice by which reports are retained as incidents only until a fuller investigation has taken place.

In 2020, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) in its audit of crime and incident recording examined Police Scotland's 'no crime' processes to determine if decisions to 'no crime' were made correctly. In its audit, which examined 870 'no crime' decisions across Scotland, HMICS found that 94.4% had been made correctly, which it described as good. Compliance was 96.0% in 2016 and 93.9% in 2014. Three divisions, Lothians and the Scottish Borders, Greater Glasgow and Lanarkshire achieved 100% compliance. It should be noted that non-compliance in the audit does not necessarily infer an incorrect 'no crime' decision. It will also include cases where there was insufficient information in the crime/incident report to explain the rationale for the no crime decision. Further information is available in the HMICS audits section within the Data suppliers' Quality Assurance principles, standards and quality checks chapter.

Contact

Email: Justice_Analysts@gov.scot

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