Scotland

One-in-five experiences cyber fraud each year

Silhouette of man on computer Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The majority of victims did not report the incident to the police

One-in-five adults who use the internet said they had experienced cyber fraud or computer misuse, according to a new report.

The latest Scottish Crime and Justice Survey said most victims reported no impact on them but they changed their online behaviours as a result.

The most common problem encountered was having a device infected by a virus.

Other common types of cyber fraud were having someone access online accounts for fraudulent purposes.

Having card or bank account details stolen online was also among the most common computer misuse.

About 4.5% of internet users said they had been a victim of a scam email.

Not reported

The SCJS for the year 2018-19 found that the majority of victims did not report the incident to the police.

This was particularly true in the case of scam phone calls and viruses.

The only type of cyber fraud which was reported by most victims was the online theft of a bank card or bank account details.

This is the first time the annual Scottish Crime and Justice Survey into public experiences and attitudes to crime has asked about cyber crime and online fraud.

The SCJS is a large-scale social survey which asks more than 5,500 adults about their experiences and perceptions of crime.

It is important because it provides a picture of crime in Scotland, including crimes that have not been reported to, or recorded by, the police and captured in police recorded crime statistics.

'Safer place'

The latest report, for 2018-19, shows large falls in crime over the past decade, meaning people are less likely to be victims and feel much safer.

It found that the total number of crimes had fallen by two-fifths since 2008-09.

The proportion of adults experiencing crime fell from one in five to one in eight over the decade.

Other key findings were:

  • The volume of crime in Scotland, including incidents not reported to the police, has fallen by 45% over the last decade or so - from an estimated 1,045,000 incidents in 2008/09 to 573,000 in 2018/19.
  • The SCJS estimates that the police became aware of 36% of crime in 2018/19, a similar proportion to previous years.
  • Most adults (87.6%) were not victims of any crime in 2018/19.
  • The proportion of adults experiencing crime decreased from one-in-five (20.4%) to one-in-eight (12.4%) between 2008/09 and the latest year.
  • The likelihood of experiencing any crime was higher among those living in the 15% most deprived areas.

The SCJS said the overall crime victimisation rate enabled a "broad comparison" with the equivalent rate in England and Wales.

The report said adults in Scotland were less likely to have experienced crime than those in England and Wales during 2018/19, with victimisation rates of 12.4% and 14.9% respectively.

Scotland's Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: "While it is encouraging that Scotland remains a safer place than a decade ago, with fewer victims of crime, there is no room for complacency."

He said the Scottish government would continue to focus on early intervention and prevention.

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