Recorded crime remains at low levels

Justice Secretary Keith Brown

RECORDED crime remains at one of the lowest levels in nearly 50 years, according to the latest annual statistics.

Official figures show that the total number of crimes recorded by Police Scotland in the past year was 246,511 – one of the lowest levels of recorded crime since 1974.

Overall, that figure is down by five crimes from the previous year. However, taking into account the 20,976 crimes recorded under Coronavirus related legislation, compared to just 107 towards the end of 2019-20, other crime categories have collectively decreased by 8% in the past year.

Between 2019-20 and 2020-21 recorded crime fell in four key areas:

  • non-sexual crimes of violence decreased by 4%, from 9,316 to 8,972. This includes the recording of 1,641 crimes under the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 in 2020-21, the second year this legislation has been in place
  • sexual crimes decreased by 2% from 13,364 to 13,131
  • crimes of dishonesty decreased by 19%, from 111,409 to 89,731, the lowest level since 1971
  • fire-raising and vandalism decreased by 10% from 47,731 to 42,964. The recording of these crimes is at the lowest level seen since 1975

The National Statistics Recorded Crime in Scotland 2020-21 bulletin – which includes a new chapter on cyber-crime – estimated that 14,130 cyber-crimes were recorded by the police in Scotland in 2020-21, almost double the 2019-20 figure.

Part of this increase may be due to the significant impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, including behavioural changes such as increased online shopping.

Justice Secretary Keith Brown said:

“By all main measures crime, including violent crime, is now considerably lower than it was a decade ago, with fewer victims.

“These statistics show how crime in areas like vandalism and dishonesty, the sorts of crime that affects peoples’ everyday lives, has fallen – with levels not seen since the 1970s.

“There is still work to be done as the figures on cybercrime show – which is why we have this year published a prevention, awareness and enforcement strategy to make Scotland an inhospitable place for scammers.

“And while COVID-19 has no doubt had an impact on the figures, recorded crime was on a downward trend beforehand and through the measures we recently announced out in our Programme for Government – we will continue to make Scotland a safe place to live.

“It sets out how we intend to transform the way in which justice services are delivered, moving away from the use of custody for those who don’t pose a risk of serious harm, while protecting the police resource budget in real terms for the entirety of the Parliament.

“Overall, these very positive trends are testimony not just to the hard work of Police Scotland but to the vital support the Scottish Government has put in place to enable officers to do their jobs effectively.”

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