Thorley Stephenson, Edinburgh Law Firm

Thorley Stephenson SSC is an Edinburgh based law firm providing a wide range of legal services in family, child and criminal court cases throughout Scotland. Tel: 0131 556 9599
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Crime and Domestic Abuse in Scotland; The Statistics

Property and violent crimes make up the majority of crimes in Scottish criminal justice proceedings (68% and 32% respectively, see Fig.1). 

Thorley Stephenson Lawyers Edinburgh

While The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2016-17 reiterates a stabilising trend in crime levels since 2014-15, a breakdown of offences recorded by the police in National Statistics for 2016-17 (Recorded Crime in Scotland, 2017) reveals a relative increase in sexual crimes.

With the definition of domestic abuse covering coercive control (introduced in UK legislation in the Serious Crime Act 2015), criminal cases featuring sexual and violent crimes have become more complex. These developments highlight the need to align existing legislation and statutory guidance to provide the means for a fair trial free from the potential threat of coercion. Scottish Parliament is discussing The Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2016 (Consequential Provisions) Order 2018 to outline in more detail what the responsibilities and provisions of different official agencies are to provide for litigants and law enforcement in line with Code of Practice and existing Guidance. Equally, the Vulnerable Witnesses (Criminal Evidence) (Scotland) Bill, introduced 12th June 2018, is setting out arrangements for vulnerable witnesses.

Domestic abuse

Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Michael Matheson, told the Scottish Parliament “In 2016/17, nearly 59,000 domestic abuse incidents were reported to the police. However, we know that even this is likely to be a significant under-estimate of the actual scale of domestic abuse” (Stage 3 Debate, February 2018). The Vulnerable Witness Bill could have a significant impact on the level of evidence brought forward for consideration, as Margaret Mitchell, MSP explains, the bill is to allow pre-recorded evidence in criminal justice proceedings. Consultation is ongoing until 29/08/2018.

Key Statistics from Scotland in 2016-17

Crime statistics indicate an overall decrease in the number of crimes, but focus on the area of domestic abuse highlights the change of perspective on the area of violent crimes, sexual crimes, coercion and harassment.

  • Crimes recorded by the police in Scotland decreased by 3% from 246,243 to 238,651 in 2016-17
  • The majority of offences were in nature a property crime or violent crime
  • Sexual crimes accounted for 5% of all crimes recorded in Scotland.
  • nearly 59,000 domestic abuse incidents were reported to the police

With the Domestic Violence (Scotland) Act 2018 in force, crime statistics will change, as reporting figures on domestic abuse will be differentiated in part from statistics on assault, harassment, sexual assault and other threatening behaviours. A robust system of support for vulnerable witnesses and the right legal partner can give litigants the confidence to pursue their rights. Consultation with one of our lawyers, can offer clarity and support in legal proceedings, whatever your circumstances.


For professional legal advice and representation, speak with one of our expert criminal defence lawyers today on 01315569599 or, alternatively, contact us via our online contact form

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