Criminal Proceedings in Scotland 2019-20

The total number of people proceeded against in Scottish courts fell by 4% to 85,726 in the year to 2019-20, according to National Statistics published by Scotland’s Chief Statistician today.

The number of people convicted also fell at the same rate, down 4% to 75,251.

This continues the general downward trend of the last 10 years, with the number of convictions down 35% in 2019-20 compared to 2010-11.

Convictions have decreased for most types of crimes and offences between 2018-19 and 2019-20.

There were notable falls in the number of convictions for unlawful use of a motor vehicle (down 18% or 1,358 fewer convictions), shoplifting (down 9% or 533 convictions), and drug crimes (down 11% or 575 convictions).

Although convictions for most types of crimes and offences decreased, there was a notable rise of 21% for convictions in crimes in the non-sexual crimes of violence group between 2018-19 and 2019-20, from 1,772 in 2018-19 to 2,142 in 2019-20.

This was partly due to a rise in the number of people convicted for attempted murder and serious assault by 11% from 1,166 in 2018-19 to 1,298 in 2019-20; and robbery, which increased by 14% from 361 to 410.

However, the number of convictions for homicide remained unchanged over the past year.

The increase in convictions for non-sexual crimes of violence between 2018-19 and 2019-20 was also due, in part, to the introduction of the new crime of domestic abuse under the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018, which came into effect for a course of conduct committed on or after 1st April 2019.

There were 206 convictions in 2019-20.

This was out of 246 people proceeded against, giving a conviction rate of 84%.

Due to the time lag in processing of cases coming to court this is effectively only a partial year’s worth of data.

Further data is needed to provide a clear understanding of sentencing for this offence.

There were 8,120 convictions for crimes where the statutory domestic abuse aggravator was proven in 2019-20, which is a 5% increase from 7,751 in 2018-19.

There has been a slight decrease of 2% in the number of convictions for sexual crimes, from 1,224 in 2018-19 to 1,204 in 2019-20.

Within the sexual crimes group, total convictions for rape and attempted rape decreased by 8% from 142 in 2018-19 to 130 in 2019-20.

The total number of convictions fell by 4%, however, those resulting in a custodial sentence decreased by 9% (from 12,221 in 2018-19 to 11,101 in 2019-20).

Custodial sentences represented 15% of sentences imposed for all convictions in 2019-20, similar to the proportion over the past decade, which has ranged between 13% and 16%.

The average length of custodial sentence for all crimes, excluding life sentences, in 2019-20 was almost a year (356 days), which is 9% longer than in 2018-19 (326 days).

The increase in average sentence length is due to fewer shorter sentences being given out, rather than more longer sentences.

In 2019-20, 22% (16,296) of people convicted were given a community sentence.

This is a 7% increase in the number from 15,211 in 2018-19, and the highest proportion of convictions where community sentences were imposed in the past 10 years.

The increase in community sentences between 2018-19 and 2019-20 was driven by a 6% increase in Community Payback Orders (CPOs) and a 15% increase in the Restriction of Liberty Orders (RLOs).

Over the last 10 years, the average age of people convicted in court has risen.

In 2010-11, 18-20-year olds had the highest conviction rate at 62 convictions per 1,000 population, whereas in 2019-20 the highest rate was for those aged between 31-40 years old (32 convictions per 1,000 population).

The rate for the 21-30 age group is very similar at 31 per 1,000.

There are a number of measures available to the police for dealing with minor offences directly.

Recorded Police Warnings accounted for 65% of these in 2019-20, with 22,353 issued, which is a slight increase of 1% compared to 2018-19.

In 2019-20, the majority (65%) of these warnings were issued for drugs offences, breach of the peace, and shoplifting.

The number of COPFS disposals increased by 2% between 2018-19 and 2019-20.

This was driven by a 14% increase in the number of Fiscal Fixed Penalties and a 21% increase in Fiscal Combined Fines and Compensation, but there was also a 9% decrease in the number of Fiscal Warnings.

The figures released today were produced in accordance with professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.