Nature of Crime

Different types of crimes, vandalism, theft and violence to property and people

Crime statistics

Type of crimeTotal change from 2015-2016 to 2016-2017
Non-Sexual Violence6,775 to 7,164
Sexual Violence10,273 to 10,822
Dishonesty115,789 to 113,205
Vandalism54,226 to 52,514

Property crime includes the following exclusive groups: -

  • vandalism, including motor vehicle and property vandalism
  • motor vehicle theft-related incidents
  • housebreaking
  • other household thefts including bicycle theft
  • personal theft excluding robbery

Violent crime includes: -

  • assault
  • robbery

Crime statistics

Recorded crime is at its lowest level since 1974. The level of crime in Scotland has fallen in recent years, with 238,651 crimes recorded by the police in 2016/17. In the last ten years crime has decreased by 43%.

In 2014/15, 14.5% of people in Scotland were victims of crime. This is the lowest number of recorded crimes in the country in over 40 years.

Crimes of dishonesty, eg theft, are the most common and accounted for 47% of the total figure. The next most common type of crime was vandalism/fire-raising which accounted for 22% of the total.

There were 105 homicides and 7,164 non-sexual violent crimes in Scotland in 2016/17, which half the amount recorded ten years earlier. This suggests the view that violence in Scotland is common is incorrect, as only around 3% of all crime involved violence.

In 2016/17 there was a ‘clear up’ rate of 50% of crimes within Scotland the lowest rate for five years.

All statistics in this section are from the Scottish government unless otherwise stated.

Care must always be taken when drawing conclusions from crime statistics. Only crimes which are reported are recorded, not crimes which have been committed. An increase in crime may reflect the fact that the police are catching more criminals and not that more crime is taking place. The opposite is also true.

An increase in crime statistics may reflect more confidence in the police by the public. Crimes such as racial attacks and sexual assault may be on the increase but again these figures may be down to more public confidence in the criminal justice system to report them.

All statistics in this section are from the Scottish Government sources.