4. Clear up rates
This Chapter presents statistics on recorded crime Clear up rates in Scotland during 2015-16. Whereas the rest of this bulletin presents recorded crime statistics that have been produced as National Statistics (following the UKSA's decision to re-designate this information as National Statistics in September 2016) - these clear up rate statistics will remain published as Official Statistics. This is the same designation as was used to publish this information for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 reporting years.
The UKSA will re-visit the statistical designation of this information once HMICS have carried out an audit of this data and the Scottish Crime Recording Board has considered any implications for the quality of these data. HMICS propose to scope out an audit of clear-up data and pilot an audit methodology in 2017, with a view to providing the public and other stakeholders with assurance about the reliability of clear up rates. Statisticians will keep users informed of progress with this audit and further developments beyond this (through the Scotstat network).
The definition of "cleared up" is noted below. This definition came into force with effect from 1 April 1996.
A crime or offence is regarded as cleared up where there exists
a sufficiency of evidence under Scots law, to justify consideration
of criminal proceedings notwithstanding that a report is not
submitted to the procurator fiscal because either:
(i) by standing agreement with the procurator fiscal, the police warn the accused due to the minor nature of the offence, or
(ii) reporting is inappropriate due to the non-age of the accused, death of the accused or other similar circumstances.
For some types of crime or offence the case is cleared up immediately because the offender is "caught in the act", e.g. motor vehicle offences. In Scots law, the confession of an accused person to a crime would not in general be sufficient to allow a prosecution to be taken, as corroborative evidence is required. Thus, a case cannot be regarded as "cleared up" on the basis of a confession alone. In some cases there is sufficient evidence but a prosecution cannot be brought, for example, because the accused has left the country. In such cases, the offender is said to have been traced and the crime is regarded as cleared up. The other terms in the definition describe the various actions that must be taken by the police against offenders.
Clear up rates are calculated as follows:
Clear up rates presented are rounded to one decimal place.
Crimes or offences recorded by the police as cleared up in one financial year, year y, may have been committed and therefore recorded in a previous year, i.e. year y-1. This means that the number of crimes or offences cleared up are being expressed as a percentage of a different set of crimes or offences. This means that clear up rates in excess of 100% can arise in a given year.
As the number of crimes cleared up in a year may include crimes recorded in a previous year, this is not a perfect measure of crimes cleared up, particularly since this method can result in clear up rates of over 100%. The best method would be to take the number of crimes recorded and the subset of those which have been cleared up by the police. However due to the aggregate way in which the data is currently obtained, it is not possible to do this at present. Going forward, we will investigate any improvement that could be made to the measurement of clear up rates, and will consult with users on any possible change.
Clear up rates for the Motor vehicle offences group are not included in the bulletin since many of these crimes are offences for which the offender is 'caught in the act'.
A new system of recorded warnings - known as the Recorded Police Warning ( RPW) scheme, was introduced by Police Scotland on the 11 January 2016. The scheme allows police officers to make greater use of their discretion when dealing with minor crimes and offences, and replaces the Formal Adult Warning system. With the scheme's launch in January 2016, some crimes and offences in this 2015-16 bulletin will have been dealt with by a RPW.
This new scheme should not impact on clear up rate statistics as a RPW can only be issued where there is sufficient evidence to report a matter to the Crown (and hence meet the criteria for a 'cleared-up' crime or offence). As expected there is no evidence at this early stage of any impact of RPWs on clear-up rate statistics. The Scottish Crime Recording Board ( SCRB) will continue to monitor developments in this area to ensure this remains the case.
Total recorded crime
The clear up rate for total recorded crimes increased by 1.2 percentage points from 50.4% in 2014-15 to 51.6% in 2015-16. This is the highest clear up rate since 1976, the first year for which comparable clear up rates are available ( Table 1).
There now follows an analysis of clear up rates by crime group at both Scotland and local authority levels. It should be noted that some local authority areas have comparatively low levels of recorded crime, and so clear up rates that are based on small numbers should be treated with caution. Rates of over 100% can occur when crimes are cleared up in a different reporting period to the year in which they were recorded.
Non-sexual crimes of violence:
The clear up rate for Non-sexual crimes of violence decreased by 1.8 percentage points from 84.1% in 2014-15 to 82.3% in 2015-16. Despite this decrease, this is the second highest level seen during the ten year period from 2006-07 to 2015-16. The clear up rate for Group 1 crimes ranged from 128.6% in Na h-Eileanan Siar to 70.8% in the City of Edinburgh.
Although clear up rates for the categories of Attempted murder and serious assault and Robbery both increased by around 1 percentage point each between 2014-15 and 2015-16, the other two categories in this crime group saw a larger decrease over the same period: the clear up rate for Homicide etc. dropped by 6.4 percentage points from 107.6% to 101.2%, and that of Other violence fell by 11.5 percentage points from 90.6% to 79.0%.
Chart 18: Clear up rates for crimes recorded by the police by crime group, 1976 1 to 1994 then 1995-96 to 2015-16
1. Comparable clear up rates for the present crime groups are not available prior to 1976.
The clear up rate for Sexual crimes decreased by 2.4 percentage points in 2015-16 from 76.5% to 74.1%. This decrease follows an upward trend seen since 2009-10, with clear up rates remaining the third highest in the ten year period from 2006-07 to 2015-16. Clear up rates ranged from 115.0% in Clackmannanshire to 59.5% in the Orkney Islands.
Clear up rates decreased in all categories of Sexual crimes between 2014-15 and 2015-16, except for Rape and attempted rape which increased from 74.2% to 76.3%. The rate for Sexual assault fell by 5.8 percentage points from 76.6% in 2014-15 to 70.8% in 2015-16, while that of Crimes associated with prostitution and Other sexual crimes fell by less than 1 percentage point each.
Crimes of dishonesty:
The clear up rate for Crimes of dishonesty increased by 2.2 percentage points in 2015-16, from 35.8% to 38.0%. The clear up rate for these crimes has fluctuated slightly year to year, but is currently at a similar level as at the start of the ten year period from 2006-07 to 2015-16. The clear up rate for Crimes of dishonesty ranged from 69.2% in Na h-Eileanan Siar to 27.6% in East Dunbartonshire.
Clear up rates also increased in the majority of categories in this crime group, but those for Shoplifting, Fraud and Other crimes of dishonesty all decreased between 2014-15 and 2015-16, and are at their lowest levels within the ten year period from 2006-07 to 2015-16.
Fire-raising, vandalism etc.:
The clear up rate for Fire-raising, vandalism etc. increased by 1.5 percentage points in 2015-16 from 22.8% to 24.3%. Crimes of Fire-raising, vandalism etc. consistently have the lowest clear up rate of the five crime groups. The 2015-16 clear up rate for Fire-raising, vandalism etc. ranged from 54.7% in the Shetland Islands to 12.1% in Inverclyde.
Clear up rates for Other crimes are generally close to 100% since these consist of many crimes for which someone is 'caught in the act'. The clear up rate for Other crimes decreased by 0.5 percentage points in 2015-16 from 96.5% to 96.0%, the lowest level in the ten year period from 2006-07 to 2015-16. The clear up rate for Group 5 crimes ranged from 102.1% in Highland to 87.1% in the Orkney Islands.
The clear up rate for the Drugs category decreased slightly by 0.8 percentage points between 2014-15 and 2015-16, while that of the Other category increased by 1.2 percentage points. Categories of Crimes against public justice and Handling offensive weapons remained at similar levels to 2014-15.
Table 1: Percentage of crimes / offences cleared up 1 by the police, Scotland, 2006-07 to 2015-16 2
|Crime / Offence group||2006-07||2007-08||2008-09||2009-10||2010-11||2011-12||2012-13||2013-14||2014-15||2015-16|
|Non-sexual crimes of violence||60.1||61.5||63.9||67.0||71.6||75.5||78.6||81.9||84.1||82.3|
|Homicide etc. 3 (incl. causing death by driving)||100.0||99.3||100.0||105.7||99.2||96.7||104.4||101.9||107.6||101.2|
|Attempted murder & serious assault 4||60.0||60.7||61.6||65.7||69.9||73.9||77.8||81.5||83.3||84.4|
|Sexual crimes 5||73.5||71.5||68.1||65.6||66.4||67.5||68.0||75.6||76.5||74.1|
|Rape & attempted rape||67.1||69.9||61.4||56.8||54.9||56.9||61.8||73.0||74.2||76.3|
|Crimes associated with prostitution||98.1||98.2||99.3||96.5||97.0||95.9||95.9||96.7||97.3||96.4|
|Other sexual crimes||70.4||68.1||62.9||67.3||68.6||72.2||72.7||79.4||75.5||74.9|
|Crimes of dishonesty||37.6||37.7||38.9||38.3||37.0||37.2||38.1||37.4||35.8||38.0|
|Theft by opening a lockfast place ( OLP)||37.4||32.3||37.7||30.7||22.6||21.7||19.5||16.8||15.2||21.2|
|Theft from a motor vehicle by OLP||16.8||15.2||16.6||17.3||17.2||17.2||20.1||16.2||15.1||19.3|
|Theft of a motor vehicle||41.2||43.7||43.4||43.9||43.3||45.2||47.6||43.1||39.3||41.8|
|Fire-raising, vandalism etc.||25.0||24.6||25.0||25.6||25.0||25.4||27.0||25.1||22.8||24.3|
|Crimes against public justice||97.9||98.0||97.5||97.3||97.6||97.6||97.6||98.0||97.5||97.5|
|Handling an offensive weapon||97.2||95.9||95.7||96.5||96.2||97.3||97.0||97.8||96.6||96.5|
|Miscellaneous offences 7||83.0||82.0||83.9||85.5||87.5||86.3||84.3|
|Common assault 4||70.7||70.8||69.7||69.7||69.9||71.4||72.6||75.9||76.2||75.9|
|Breach of the peace etc. 8||88.4||87.9||86.7||85.8||84.3||86.8||87.8||89.2||87.8||86.5|
|Drunkenness and other disorderly conduct 7||99.9||99.9||99.8||99.9||99.9||99.8||99.8|
Please see Notes for Tables at end of Chapter 6.