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Criminal Proceedings in Scotland 2014-15

Published: 23 Feb 2016 09:30

A National Statistics Publication for Scotland.

The total number of people convicted in Scottish courts increased by less than one per cent to 106,507 in the year to 2014-15, according to National Statistics published by Scotland's Chief Statistician today.

This is the second consecutive annual increase in convictions and is in contrast to the downward trend of the previous six years. The relatively small rise was driven by an increase in breach of the peace convictions (up 13 per cent to 15,580) but offset by a decline in motor vehicle offence convictions (down by three per cent to 38,945).

The increase in breach of the peace convictions was driven by offences with a domestic abuse aggravator, particularly for offences of "threatening or abusive behaviour" and stalking. This may be reflective of a strengthened emphasis on tackling domestic abuse in Scotland by both Police Scotland and the COPFS.

Other figures in the publication show that the number of people convicted for sexual crimes rose for the fourth year in a row with an eight per cent increase overall (from 1,057 in 2013-14 to 1,145 in 2014-15). This further rise can be partly explained by increased reporting of sexual offences in the wake of high profile cases.

By contrast, convictions for non-sexual crimes of violence fell for the fourth consecutive year, with the largest falls being for homicide (12 per cent decline) and robbery (15 per cent) down to and 80 and 377 people respectively. Changes in the latest year for these types of crimes are similar to those seen for police recorded crime.

The number of custodial sentences fell by one per cent to 13,977 in 2014-15 and are now at their lowest level in ten years. In 2014-15 the average custodial sentence length, excluding life sentences, was around nine and a half months. This is three per cent shorter than in 2013-14 but 25 per cent longer than in 2005-06 (seven and a half months).

Over half (58 per cent) of housebreaking convictions received custodial sentences in 2014-15, the highest proportion for these types of convictions in the last decade. In addition, the average custodial sentence length for housebreaking was a little over a year in 2014-15 compared to seven months in 2005-06.

Over the last ten years the people convicted in the courts have been getting older. In 2005-06, 18 year olds had the highest conviction rate at 102 convictions per 1,000 population whereas in 2014-15 the highest rate was for those aged between 26 and 30 years old, standing at 51 convictions per 1,000 population.

The figures released today were produced by independent statistical staff free from any political interference, in accordance with professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

Notes to editors

The full statistical publication is available at Criminal Proceedings in Scotland, 2014-15

This publication presents statistics on court proceedings and sentencing, some non-court disposals, and statistics on bail orders and undertakings.

National Statistics are produced by professionally independent statistical staff – more information on the standards of official statistics in Scotland can be accessed at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/About