The Vision for Justice in Scotland

We set out our transformative vision of the future justice system for Scotland, spanning the full journey of criminal, civil and administrative justice, with a focus on creating safer communities and shifting societal attitudes and circumstances which perpetuate crime and harm.

Aim - We have a society in which people feel, and are, safer in their communities

Feeling safe is fundamental for individuals and communities to thrive. Communities who feel and demonstrate they are safe, reduce fear of harm and victimisation and are also in a stronger position to support members to re-integrate and recover from offending.

We know that feeling safe is not felt equally across everyone in our communities – different crimes are experienced differently by different groups. For example, women are more likely than men to be concerned about crime and perceive some issues to be more prevalent in their neighbourhood than men. People who have experience of the justice system also feel less safe than the general public.

The need to feel and be safe is not just about being protected from crime and offending. We also should be supported to be as safe from unintentional harm whether that is in our homes or in our communities, either as a result of accidents or emergency events.

As well as police-recorded crime falling, the proportion of adults experiencing crime each year has also fallen over the last decade, from around one-in-five adults to around one in eight. Violent crime has fallen over the long term, and the number of victims of homicide is at a record low. However, the reduction in crime has not been experienced equally across Scottish society, with those living in the most deprived areas in Scotland having a greater likelihood of being a victim of crime and just under 4% of adults experiencing over half of all crime. Therefore, our public services should continue to work together, taking a public health approach in tackling violence to ensure we experience less crime, especially violent crime.

Our police, fire and other emergency services work in partnership to reduce harm and increase safety including work in relation to terrorism. Relevant authorities have a duty to support the delivery of the PREVENT programme to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism.

We aim to reduce unintentional harm in our communities in regards to events like fires, flooding and other emergency events which put our communities under strain as well as harm from accidents. We have made real

progress in this area and the number of fires has fallen by over a third in the last decade. However, we still require greater resilience to limit the impact of these emergency events, using the assets within our communities and support from public services to ensure that as individuals we suffer less harm including from emergency situations and fires.

Women are more likely than men to experience partner abuse

The latest Scottish Crime and Justice Survey found that 3.7% of women had experienced domestic abuse incidents in the past year compared to 2.6% of men. Police-recorded crime showed there had been a 4% increase in domestic abuse incidents compared to the previous year.

Criminal proceeding data shows that convictions for violent crimes increased by 11% in 2019-20, with more than half of this increase accounted for by new offences under the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018.

We all should feel and be safe in our communities yet we know we have work to do to achieve this. This is of course particularly relevant in tackling gender based violence. Police-recorded sexual crimes remain at one of their highest levels and there has been an increase in recorded domestic abuse incidents. We must ensure a strong and flourishing Scotland where all individuals are equally safe and respected, and where women and girls live free from all forms of violence and abuse, as well as the attitudes that perpetuate it. As individuals we should not have differing experiences of safety in our communities as a result of societal attitudes such as misogyny, racism, homophobia and sectarianism. We all should experience equality and mutual respect.

57% of crime is experienced by just 3.6% of adults

SCJS 2019-20

Scotland’s diversity is its strength; all communities are valued and their contribution welcomed. Despite this, our communities are not as strong as they could be and hate crime and sectarian behaviour threaten community cohesion, and have a corrosive effect on communities and society as a whole. There is also evidence, mainly from the US, that experiencing racism can lead to trauma and fear among victims of racial attacks and discrimination. Around three-fifths of hate crimes recorded in 2019-20 included a race aggravator, one in five included a sexual orientation aggravator and around two fifths which had a religious aggravator involved prejudice towards the Catholic community. We need to work to improve community relations and ensure that we experience less hate crime and sectarian behaviour.

The threats from different types of crime is changing. Use of digital technology has exposed us to greater risks in regard to cyber-crime. In 2020-21, over 14,000 cyber-crimes were recorded by the police which is almost double from the year before. Cyber-crimes accounted for an estimated one-in-three sexual crimes in 2020-21, and around one-in-ten crimes of dishonesty. In addition, over a quarter of businesses surveyed in 2021 had experienced a cyber-attack in the last two-to-three years. Over the coming years, as individuals, communities, organisations and businesses we need to be more resilient to cyber threats and attacks.

Finally, it is vital that as children we also feel safe in our communities and homes. Supporting our ambition that we Get It Right For Every Child, and that Scotland is the best place in the world to grow up. At least 39% of the sexual crimes recorded by police in 2020-21 related to a victim under the age of 18, with an estimated one-in-six sexual crimes being cyber-crimes with a victim under the age of 16. Many children are also witnesses to partner abuse. The Scottish Crime and Justice survey found that of those who reported children were living in the household at the time they experienced partner abuse, 71% said that the children were in or around the house or close by during the most recent incident of partner abuse. We must uphold children’s rights and protect children from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse.

We will have achieved our aim to have a society in which people feel, and are, safer in their communities when:

  • we all feel safe in our communities.
  • our communities are stronger and more resilient.
  • we all live in a tolerant, more inclusive society.



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