The latest Recorded Crime in Scotland

"Scotland may be a particularly interesting example of the study of crime trends…. Because of the large fund of data provided by regular crime surveys starting in 1982, in combination with the statistics of recorded crime. " [Smith, D. J. and Young, P. (1999) in Criminal Justice in Scotland, p 28] Write a commentary on crime trends in Scotland over the past five years, using information from the latest Recorded Crime in Scotland and the Scottish Crime Survey 2000.

CRIME- A word that strikes fear into most of our hearts, each year five million crimes are recorded, that is around one for every ten of us, but truthfully that number could be as much as four times higher. There is a mass public fear of crime that pushes us to lock up our children and turn our homes into modern day fortresses, the question that arises from this is, is this just hysteria? In a survey by {The Herald, September 16, 1998} entitled "Scotland turns into a crime fearing nation" various questions were asked and it was shown that 50. 5% of males and 49.

6% of females worried about themselves or someone they lived with becoming a victim of crime. 12. 8% of males and 49. 6% of females feared having their home broken into. The article basically served to show how Scotland as a society was in fear of crime, should this be the case. In this essay I will be focussing on the crime trends in Scotland over the past five years, in doing this I will be assessing and evaluating whether or not crime is getting out of control. I will be looking at the past and present and comparing and contrasting the two.

Also the police who have arguably the most important role in this topic will be assessed in looking at their attempts to fight the good fight against crime. By doing all of this I will be making a heavy use of the latest recorded crime in Scotland and referring to the Scotland Crime Survey (SCS) of 2000 as well as past surveys as well. In doing this I will attempt to conclude my findings on various aspects of crime trends in Scotland thus prompting recommendations on what could be done to make improvements etc… Firstly I am going to look at who the victims of crime actually are.

A single mother's chances of being a victim of violence are high, more than two and a half times the national average, also she faces double the risk of burglary. If she rents her home and it is in a run down area or if she has been attacked or burgled before, the chances of her being a victim of crime are even higher. Middle class professionals risk of encountering violence or burglary is a lot lower than average usually due to things like the well respected areas they live in which have various schemes such as neighbourhood watch to protect themselves against crime.

Young men aged between 16 and 24 are in the highest risk category, they have a more than twenty percent chance of suffering crimes of violence which is four times the national average, The risk increases with such things as night time visits to pubs and nightclubs, things such as a mobile phone appear to be a magnet for thieves. Although an elderly retired couple may worry about crime more than most but in reality they are the most likely not to encounter it. Elderly people face only a ninth of the average risk of violence and less than half the risk of burglary.

Politically the fear of crime is a bigger issue than crime itself. However a low income family due to the most common fact that they are usually unemployed actually doubles the risk of burglary and more than doubles the risk of violence. Due to other facts such as they generally live in poorer areas which are more likely than not a crime hot spot, there would be no neighbourhood watch in these areas because the criminals usually tend to be there actual neighbours

One of the most prominent issues in relation to crime that more often than not end up on the front pages of our newspapers is the amount of crime that exists and whether or not it is falling or not at a particular time. This leads on to often heated debates and answering the question isn't as plain sailing as it appears to be. As we are concerned with Scotland the main information provided by the statistics include the total number of crimes and offences recorded in a year.

Also prominently included is the total number of crimes and offences recorded by the police and the clear up rates of various categories. These categories consist of non-sexual crimes of violence against a person which basically encapsulates things like serious assault, homicide and robbery. Crimes of indecency which are sexual assault, lewd or libidinous practices, crimes of dishonesty, i. e. housebreaking, shoplifting, fraud and theft of motor vehicles. Fire-raising, vandalism and reckless conduct and other crimes such as crimes against the public mainly drugs.

Miscellaneous crimes are also included which are petty assault, breach of the peace, and drunkenness. Motor vehicle offences, i. e. reckless or careless driving, drunk driving and speeding. After all these are included there is a historical analysis of main crimes, offences committed, the type of proceedings and sentencing coupled with a regional analysis and a detailed look at defenders age and sex are also looked at. Persons sentenced to prison or young offenders institutions are also analysed by the length of the sentence.

The Scottish Crime Survey (SCS) gives us an index of crime in Scotland which goes hand in hand with the police recorded crime statistics by giving us an estimation of crimes which are reported or not by 'victims'. It was a household survey in which over five thousand adults of the age or 16 or over took part in throughout Scotland. After the 1982/88/93/96 the 2000 survey was the fifth of its kind in Scotland. It was estimated in the survey that in 1999 around 843,000 crimes were committed against individuals and households, that two thirds of all crimes were committed against property, the remainder being against people.

Another third of all crimes were against motor vehicles and a quarter of all crimes involved a form of violence being either robbery or assault. The motor vehicle crime rate can maybe be explained to a certain level as there are far more vehicles on the road at the time of the survey It doesn't appear by the survey that it is all doom and gloom though as according to it there was a thirteen percent fall in the total number of crimes between 1995 and 1999 continuing the trend from the fall from the previous survey in 1992 where there was an eight percent decrease.

As the percent has risen it could be attributed to more policemen and schemes set up by the police and government alike. We are also told that the level of housebreaking was unchanged but the key factor is that the percentage of thieves that actually gained entry to the houses in question this can be related to what was stated in my introduction, that there is such a fear of crime that it is prompting people to turn their homes into fortresses, which looks as if it is a good thing to do as housebreaking doesn't seem to be getting any more infrequent according to the statistics.

Perhaps the biggest decrease of crime was shown in the forty seven percent drop in the number of vehicle related thefts, again this is more than likely to do with more precautions taken by owners with regards to anti theft gadgets and alarms. It could also be because not as many vehicle related crimes are reported due to the growing number of road users who do not have adequate insurance and road tax thus making it impossible for them to report these particular crimes.

It was also shown by the SCS that there was a thirty three percent rise in violent crimes however theses statistics were shown to be flawed as there was a very high margin for error, it is balanced back in a bad way due to the fact that the police recorded crime statistics had actually shown a marked increase in violent crimes. Crimes and offences recorded by the police show some interesting developments as in the year 2001 police strength is at an all time high which is what people lobby for etc.

The number of crimes recorded is lower than previous years and the clear up rate is at an all time high and with regards to the number of offences recorded it is also at an all time high but so is the clear up rate in relation to it. So are we to believe the world is a better place, that we needn't turn our homes and vehicles into our own little fortresses?

The criminal statistics that I have been referring to are used for a number of reasons, it can be argued that the police use them to calm the 'worrying' public in relation to the apparent hysteria that surrounds the aura of crime, on the other hand it could be said that they are there to be learnt from and to improve on to make society a better place. But in reality they are there to make general comments on the state of crime within society, thus indicating to us patterns and trends in criminal activity.

They are used for making comparisons across time, areas etc. They also show the efficiency of the police service with regards to detection and clear up rates, basically telling us if they are succeeding at what they are trying to do. And finally they are also used to assess the countries morals or lack of, giving us an overview in to whether or not society is actually improving or not. Apparently so if the crime surveys have to be believed. But it doesn't stop at crimes that appear on these 'surveys' because not all crime does, these are known as the dark figure.

This area suggests that crimes may not be reported for a number of reasons such as in some case individuals involved won't even realise that a crime has been committed, the offence may be seen by individuals as trivial or that the victim may be embarrassed to actually report the crime. It could also be down to fear of what will happen if you did report it. Of course with all of these statistics there are bound to raise many criticisms. The main ones being that they are in fact only estimates, they don't include victimless crimes of which victims are unaware, they don't include corporate crime.

Upon looking at varied statistics on the whole it was quite clear that they represented that crime was of the decrease, although any improvement must be seen as good news in my opinion it is not as simple as that. I started of this paper by stating that there was a mass hysteria about crime, but if these statistics show a decrease should that bee actually seen as hysteria, maybe hysteria is the wrong word but today I think it is important that people turn their home and vehicles into modern day fortresses as it has played a part in crime going down.

We know that police strength is at an all time high and that is also a major reason for these statistics being a little more pleasant, but they can also do more, recruitment should continue and schemes such as the spot light initiative and road traffic schemes should be continued and added to. Crime as a whole seems to be down but in those statistics certain crimes aren't at an all time low so not enough is being done. Adding to that the 'dark figure' we will never really have truly accurate statistics with relation to crime.

Although all of these surveys do serve a purpose they are flawed as well because they mostly only deal with crime reported to the police. It is clear to me as well that the majority of crime statistics actually reflect the vested interests of law enforcement agencies. With regards to the actual trends of crimes it appears that overall it is going done but individually in relation to particular crime this s not the case thus meaning things really aren't all that better, and maybe the word 'hysteria' in relation to fear of crime is justified after all.