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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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More than half of those convicted of sexual assault did not go to jail, new statistics find

Convictions for violent and sexual offences are on the rise despite an overall fall in the number of cases coming before the Scottish courts. Official statistics released on Tuesday – named Criminal Proceedings in Scotland 2017-18 – found the number of convictions for crimes of violence increased five per cent in 2017-18, including rises in attempted murder, serious assault and a 17 per cent jump in homicides.

Key findings of the report

Rape and Attempted Rape Convictions & Acquittals

The number of convictions for rape and attempted rape increased by eight per cent to 107. This compares with 99 the previous year, and nearly three times the amount of convictions as in 2010-11 (36 convictions). The number of proceedings for these crimes, however, dropped by two per cent from the previous year (from 251 to 247).

In 2017-18, the crime type with the longest average sentence (excluding life sentences) was rape and attempted rape, increasing from 2,502 days in 2016-17 to 2,567 days (a three per cent rise).

The highest acquittal rate across all criminal types was seen for rape and attempted rape, where 55 per cent, or 136 of the 247 people proceeded against, were acquitted.

20 per cent of all convictions resulted in a community sentence

16,830 of all convictions in 2017-18 resulted in a main penalty of a community sentence, an increased of six per cent from the same period a decade ago (14 per cent in 2008-09). 47 per cent of all convictions (39,300) resulted in a financial penalty, 14 per cent (12,000) resulted in a custodial sentence, while 18 per cent (14,700) resulted in another sentence.

Drop in Criminal Proceedings

The increases come in spite of an 11 per cent drop in the number of people proceeded against in court (107,362 proceedings – 12,108 less than 2016-17 figures) and a 10 per cent decrease in the number of people who were convicted (92,347 convicted – 9,631 less than 2016-17 figures). This continues the general downward trend of the last decade and is in contrast with the rise in court activity seen between 2012-13 and 2014-15 which was attributed to an increase in the number of motor vehicle offences.

The number of prison sentences fell by six per cent to their lowest level since 2008-09, while the proportion of sentences of under three months fell one percentage point to 27 per cent, compared with 41 per cent in 2008-09. The average length of a custodial sentence, excluding life sentences, was ten and a half months.

Motor vehicle offences have highest conviction rates

Conviction rates are highest for motor vehicle offences, with 94 per cent of people proceeded against being convicted in 2017-18. In particular, speeding offences had a conviction rate of 98 per cent. The lowest conviction rate was for rape and attempted rape (43 per cent), the lowest of all crimes in each of the last ten years.

The overall fall in convictions was driven by a drop in breach of the peace convictions (down 11 per cent to 13,555), common assault convictions (13 per cent decrease to 9,810), and speeding (12 per cent drop to 9,405).

Contact our Criminal Defence Solicitors Edinburgh

If you have been charged with a criminal offence, you need a specialist criminal defence lawyer who can provide you with expert and proactive legal representation. Do not delay and get in touch with Thorley Stephenson SSC today via the online enquiry form. 

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