Recorded crime rises one per cent but remains at second lowest level for over 40 years
Person in handcuffs - Image credit: PA Images
The number of crimes reported to police increased by one per cent last year, the latest Scottish Government statistics reveal.
Recorded crimes went up by 5,583 from 238,921 in 2016-17 to 244,504 in 2017-18, according to figures from National Statistics published today.
However, recorded crime in Scotland remains at its second lowest level since 1974, following a 35 per cent decrease since 2008-09.
The clear-up rate for recorded crime averaged 49.1 per cent, excluding the newly recorded offence of handling an offensive weapon, down from 50 per cent the previous year.
Handling an offensive weapon is included in the statistics as a separate crime in all cases where a weapon was used to commit a crime or offence in a public place for the first time this year.
Previously this was considered to be an aggravation on other crimes and only recorded separately in the statistics if no other crime was committed.
This change has resulted in an additional 4,163 crimes of handling an offensive weapon being recorded in 2017-18.
There was a 13 per cent rise in reported sexual crimes, from 11,092 to 12,487 in 2017-18 – the highest level since 1971, the first year for which comparable crime groups are available.
Non-sexual violent crime increased by one per cent, as did crimes of dishonesty – which include theft and fraud – while fire raising and vandalism dropped two per cent to their lowest level since 1978.
Alongside the statistics, the Scottish Government also published analysis of robberies looking at the factors involved and perpetrators.
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “Scotland’s streets are now safer and less violent than they were a decade ago.
“This is due in no small part to the pioneering work across the justice system, NHS, schools and other partners to prevent crime at its source.
“It was also this government which took action to introduce tougher penalties for knife crime.
“Our approach to tacking violence in our communities is now held up as a model for the rest of the world, with London introducing a Violence Reduction Unit based on the success of the Scottish public health approach.
“While any small rise in crime is disappointing, we remain focused with the police and other partners on keeping crime at historically low levels.
“That is why we’ve commissioned in-depth research into different aspects of violent crime – such as this robbery analysis – to help us better understand where crime is happening, why it is happening and who it is happening to.
“It is also why we have set up an expert group looking at new action to prevent sexual crime, of which we know increases are being driven by a growth in online crime, greater confidence in reporting and a long-term rise in historical cases.”
Around a third of the increase in reports of sexual crime can be accounted for by the new crime of disclosing or threatening to disclose an intimate image, which came into force in July 2017.
However, sexual crime has continued to buck the trend of decreasing crime.
Between 2008-09 to 2016-17 reported fire raising and vandalism decreased by 53 per cent, violent crime by 43 per cent and crimes of dishonesty by 32 per cent, while reports to police of sexual crime rose by 97 per cent in the same period.
Recorded crime only includes crimes that are reported to police – thought to be around 37 per cent of all crimes – and so rises and falls may not reflect a rise or decrease in actual crime.
It is thought that increased reports of sexual crime in part reflect growing confidence in reporting cases to police.
Police Scotland Deputy Chief Constable Fiona Taylor said: “The number of robberies has almost halved in the past 10 years and that is testament to the hard work of police officers and staff.
“I'm also reassured by the fall in the number of robberies in public places.
“We continue to focus our efforts on prevention however when a crime occurs, it is treated as a priority and we will dedicate resources to ensure offenders are quickly identified and arrested.
“Tackling violent crime is a national priority for Police Scotland and we engage with health, education, government and the licensed trade to address this.
“Total recorded crime is now lower than when Police Scotland came into being five years ago.
“The increase in recorded sexual crime suggests victims feel more confident coming forward to report to us and we want to support and encourage people to continue doing this.
“We will continue working with our partners and communities to improve our ability to keep people safe.”