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Crime Numbers Fall Across Scotland

The number of crimes carried out in Scotland have fallen by around a third in just under ten years, according to a new report from Scotland’s Chief Statistician. 

“Scotland’s firm focus on prevention, responsive policing and local partnerships to help individuals and communities keep themselves safe has had a positive impact on long-term crime trends and people’s feeling of safety, with recorded crime at a 43-year low,” commented Justice Secretary Michael Matheson.

“While this progress is cause for encouragement, it will never be an excuse for complacency,” he added. “As well as continued Government investment in policing and funding partners such as Neighbourhood Watch Scotland, Crimestoppers and the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, I have commissioned further research into those areas where violence persists.”

Key Statistics

Looking at the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS) 2016-17 in more detail, it reveals that:

  • There were an estimated 712,000 crimes in 2016/17, down by around a third since the 1,045,000 crimes estimated in 2008/09.
  • Just over two-thirds of crime was property-related. These crimes included:
    • incidents of vandalism (34%),
    • other household theft (including bicycle theft) (27%),
    • personal theft (26%),
    • motor vehicle related theft (8%),
    • and housebreaking (5%).
  • Around a third of all crime was violent crime. Consistent with previous SCJS findings, the majority of violent crime incidents in 2016/17 were cases of minor assault resulting in no or negligible injury (72%). Other violent crimes comprised:
    • minor assault with injury (13%),
    • serious assault (7%),
    • attempted assault (4%),
    • and robbery (3%).

Likelihood of Experiencing Crime

The report also looked at how likely it was that people in Scotland would become victims of crime. It found that around 87% experienced no crime in 2016/17 and that the proportion of adults experiencing crime is estimated to have fallen from around one in five in 2008/09 to fewer than one in seven in 2016/17.

Around one-in-eleven adults (9.2%) experienced one crime in 2016/17, while 4.3% of adults were the victim of multiple crimes, experiencing just over three fifths of all SCJS crime (61%). In addition, 3.3% of adults were repeat victims (of two or more) of property crimes, while 1.1% of adults were repeat victims of violent crimes. These repeat victims of violence are estimated to have experienced two-thirds of all violent crime in 2016/17.

Looking at violent crime in particular, the report revealed that:

  • The proportion of adults aged 16-24 experiencing violent crime has more than halved from 12.0% in 2008/09 to 5.3% in 2016/17, however they remained the age group most likely to have been victims of violence in 2016/17.
  • The violent crime victimisation rate in 2016/17, for adults living in the 15% most deprived areas (4.8%), had not shown any significant change from 2008/09, whereas the rate has reduced for those living in the rest of Scotland (from 3.8% to 2.5%).

Confidence in the Justice System

According to the survey, the public were generally fairly confident about the operation of the justice system across a range of measures. Around 78% expressed confidence that it allows those accused of crimes to get a fair trial regardless of who they are and 75% were confident that it makes sure everyone has access to the justice system if they need it. However, adults were less confident on other measures, for example 39% were confident that it gives punishments which fit the crime.

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