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Criminal proceedings down last year, latest figures show

17 January 2017

The total number of people proceeded against in Scottish courts fell by 5% to 116,800 in the year to 2015-16, according to figures published by Scotland’s Chief Statistician today. The number convicted was down 6% to 99,950.

Last year's decline, which continues the general downward trend of the last 10 years despite a short term rise in court activity between 2012-13 and 2014-15, was driven by a fall in motor vehicle offence convictions, down 16% to 32,569, which can be attributed, in part, to changes in Police Scotland guidelines around tackling motor vehicle offences. Dangerous and careless driving convictions rose by 5% from 3,414 in 2014-15 to 3,572 in 2015-16.

Homicide convictions and those for serious assault were up by between 5 and 6%, while non-sexual crimes of violence generally rose by 1%.

Convictions for sexual crimes remained broadly static in 2015-16, at 1,156 compared with 1,152 in 2014-15, a slowdown in the longer term rise. Proccedings in this category are up by 72% since 2010-11, but convictions show a lower rise of 53% over the same period. In contrast, proceedings for rape or attempted rape fell 20% year on year, but convictions fell by the lower rate of 16%.

Custodial sentences fell by 2% from 14,035 in 2014-15 to 13,735, the lowest level since 2006-07. The average sentence length, at around nine and a half months, was 1% longer than in 2014-15 and 26% longer than in 2006-07 (seven and a half months). Community sentences rose 2% to 18,943, and now account for 19% of total disposals in 2015-16 compared with 12% in 2006-07.

The publication also includes the first statistics on recorded police warnings. These were introduced in January 2016 by Police Scotland to deal with low level offences and replace formal adult warnings. It shows that there were 4,074 recoded police warnings issued during January to March 2016, compared with 3,355 formal adult warnings given earlier in 2015-16.

Click here to view the full publication. 


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