Annex 5: Upcoming Coding Changes and Future Considerations
Changes to the Coding of Recorded Crimes and Offences:
7.36. Changes made to the rules governing the coding and counting of crimes and offences within the Scottish Crime Recording Standard ( SCRS) must be approved by the Scottish Crime Recording Board ( SCRB) ( Annex 2 provides background information on the role of the Board). In November 2016 and March 2017 the Board approved four changes to the coding of crimes and offences, which were enacted for the 2017-18 reporting year (i.e. the year immediately following the statistics presented in this Bulletin). Further information on these changes and their likely statistical impact is shown below.
7.37. Aviation Offences – The SCRB decided to transfer some aviation related offences from Group 6 – Miscellaneous Offences to Group 4 – Fire-raising, vandalism etc. This includes using a light to endanger, or dazzle / distract an air pilot, or endangering the safety of an aircraft. It was felt these incidents would be more appropriately classified as culpable and reckless conduct – with a new crime code created to record them – 33016: Culpable and reckless conduct involving aircraft. Statistics for 2017-18 will be the first to reflect this change, which is likely to have a very small impact on total crimes recorded for Group 4. Statisticians will monitor the number of cases recorded against this code, so as to inform users within the 2017-18 publication of the overall impact on cases of culpable and reckless conduct recorded by the police. The Board also decided to amend the counting rule for culpable and reckless conduct from 'one crime for each incident' to 'one crime for each incident per individual bus, train etc.'. This change was also enacted from the 1 st April 2017.
7.38. Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Bill – The Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Bill received Royal Assent in April 2016. The SCRB has approved two new crime codes to capture the charges introduced following the passage of this bill. These are 16039: Threatening to disclose an intimate image and 16040: Disclosure of an intimate image (both Group 2 – Sexual crimes). Statistics for 2017-18 will be the first to reflect these changes. Statisticians will monitor the number of cases recorded against these two new codes, so as to inform users of the impact on Group 2 Sexual crimes in the 2017-18 publication.
7.39. Communications Act 2003 (sexual) – The SCRB decided to transfer the offence code 59004: Communications Act 2003 (sexual), which currently sits within Group 6 – Miscellaneous offences, to Group 2 – Sexual crimes – under the new crime code 16041: Communications Act 2003 (sexual). A review of these cases determined that a large proportion were similar in characteristic to the type of activity targeted by the new Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Bill and the remainder included incidents of a sexual nature that did not quite fit with the existing definition of Communicating Indecently or the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009, such as an individual sending the victim a sexual image of themselves. It was decided that these offences would be more appropriately classified as sexual crimes within Group 2. Statistics for 2017-18 will be the first to reflect this change.
This change involves reclassifying some activity from an offence group to a crime group, and so this will result in a small increase in total recorded crime, with 270 cases recorded in 2016-17; however, as mentioned above, some of this activity would have moved in any event, due to the new ABSH legislation. Statistics for 2016-17, will be back-revised within the 2017-18 Bulletin, to ensure time series' continuity is not affected for this year (there will be some discontinuity for earlier years as the Communications Act 2003 (sexual) cases were not separately identifiable within the statistics until 2016-17). Statisticians will monitor the number of cases recorded against the new code of 16041, so as to inform users of the impact on Group 2 Sexual crimes in 2017-18 publication.
7.40. Handling Offensive Weapons – In March 2017 the SCRB decided to change how crimes of Handling offensive weapons are recorded. Prior to 1 st April 2017, any crime/offence committed against a person in a public setting with a weapon was recorded with the weapon possession treated as an aggravation of that crime/offence, and not as an additional separate crime. From the 1 st April 2017, both the crime/offence committed with the weapon and the possession of the weapon are recorded as separate crimes/offences, where this occurs in a public place, school or prison.
The SCRB has approved the following six new crime codes within Group 5 – Other crimes to capture this change in recording practices:
43009: Possession of offensive weapon used in other criminal activity
43010: Having in a public place an article with a blade or point used in other criminal activity
43011: Possession of offensive weapon in a prison used in other criminal activity
43012: Having in a prison an article with a blade or point used in other criminal activity
43013: Possession of offensive weapon in a school used in other criminal activity
43014: Having in a school an article with a blade or point used in other criminal activity
Although it is not yet possible to forecast the exact impact this definitional change will have on the 2017-18 reporting year, it is expected to add around 1% to 2% to the total figure for recorded crime. Therefore, any comparison with total figures for Handling offensive weapons in previous years should be treated with caution. The creation of these new codes ensures the existing measure of Handling offensive weapons (relating to cases where the weapon was not used in other crimes/offences) remains consistent with earlier years.
Statistics for 2017-18 will be the first to reflect these changes. Statisticians will monitor the number of cases recorded against the six new codes outlined above, so as to inform users of the impact on Group 5 Other crimes and total recorded crime in the 2017-18 publication.
7.41. The Railway Policing (Scotland) Bill received Royal Assent on the 1 st of August 2017. The Bill confers railway policing powers on the Police Service of Scotland (i.e. Police Scotland) and the Scottish Police Authority ( SPA) – and removes functions from the British Transport Police, in preparation for the integration of the BTP in Scotland into Police Scotland. At present, statistics on crimes and offences recorded by the BTP in Scotland are presented separately in Table 13 and are excluded from the National Statistics totals for recorded crimes and offences in Scotland (which are based on crimes and offences recorded by Police Scotland). The Scottish Crime Recording Board is currently monitoring the implementation of this Bill – to ensure the impact of this change on the preparation of the National Statistics is fully assessed, reflected upon and shared with users in a way that best adds value to the production of these statistics. Further updates will be provided through the SCOTSTAT network as they develop.
7.42. At present, legacy police force systems are still in place for the recording of incidents and crimes. This means we can only receive an aggregate count of crimes and offences recorded by the police. We note that many of our users have an interest in more analysis of individual level crime data, which would allow, for example, new information on the age and gender of victims and perpetrators. As the development of Police Scotland's recording system proceeds, we will consult with our statistical users at the appropriate time.
We are always keen to hear users' views on our products. If you have any comments or suggestions on how you would like to access information please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Email: Jamie Macfarlane, email@example.com
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House