New crime stats for Scotland
New statistics from the Scottish Government reveal that the overall number of crimes recorded by the police during April to June 2020 was 9% lower than the same period in 2019.
The Recorded Crime in Scotland: June 2020 report is the third edition of a new monthly release of Official Statistics on crimes and offences recorded by the police in Scotland.
The stats exclude crimes recorded under the Coronavirus Act 2020 and Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020, which has resulted in new crimes being recorded – for example where someone, who had left the place they were living, did not have a reasonable excuse for this when asked by a police officer, and failed to comply with police advice or instruction to return there.
Highlights from the report include:
a) The number of crimes recorded by the police in Scotland was 3% lower in June 2020 than in June 2019, reducing from 21,084 to 20,440. Over the same time period:
- Non-sexual crimes of violence were 15% lower (reducing from 851 to 722).
- Sexual crimes were 5% higher, increasing from 1,123 to 1,184 crimes.
- Crimes of dishonesty were 15% lower (reducing from 9,655 to 8,184 crimes).
- Fire-raising, vandalism etc. were 9% lower (reducing from 3,867 to 3,524 crimes).
- Other crimes were 22% higher (increasing from 5,588 to 6,826 crimes).
- Fewer crimes were recorded by the police in 17 (53%) out of 32 local authorities.
b) The number of offences recorded by the police in Scotland was 1% higher in June 2020 than in June 2019, increasing from 21,645 to 21,892. Over the same time period:
- Miscellaneous offences were 4% higher (increasing from 11,454 to 11,881).
- Motor vehicle offences were 2% lower (reducing from 10,191 to 10,011).
At the same time, the Scottish Government has also released its Safer Communities and Justice statistics: monthly briefs. Statistics include:
- Police recorded crime at one of the lowest levels since 1974. Recorded crime is down by 27% since 2009-10.
- Violent crime continues to fall while reports of sexual crime and hate crime continue to increase.
Impact of crime during the Coronavirus pandemic
Victim Support Scotland recognises that any decline in crime trends is to be welcomed, however the full picture of the impact and changing nature of crime in Scotland during the Coronavirus pandemic must be acknowledged.
The pandemic has left many people affected by crime in an even more vulnerable position than before, with some people more susceptible to certain types of crime such as domestic abuse, sexual crime and online stalking. It is an unfortunate reality that people are being opportunistic with certain crimes during lockdown.
The Coronavirus outbreak and lockdown measures are having a severe impact on the mental health of people affected by crime. In May of this year, Victim Support Scotland wrote to all Members of the Scottish Parliament to express concerns about the 400% increase in safeguarding reports of our service users feeling suicidal.
The pandemic’s impact can also be seen in the effect that delays to court proceedings is having on victims. Writing in The Scotsman, Chief Executive Kate Wallace, comments: “Victims and witnesses have been left with uncertainty about when, if ever, their case will go to court. The devastating impact of this on mental health cannot be emphasised enough.”
However, there has been positive news for people affected by crime during this time. Victim Support Scotland has seen real success stories coming from victims who are being supported practically and financially due to increased funds being made available through the Victims’ Fund. The Fund has paid for security systems, furniture, clothing, food and more to help people move forward from the crimes that have been prevalent during the pandemic.
While these statistics reveal a generally positive picture of crime rates across Scotland, it is important that we don’t lose sight of the impact Coronavirus and the lockdown measures have had on some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Scotland’s justice system will need to adapt and improve if it is to support and protect victims and witnesses when they need it most.