Recently published figures from Scotland’s Chief Statistician have revealed an 8% fall in the number of people proceeded against in Scotland’s criminal courts, taking the total for 2016-17 to 107,338. This is similar to the fall in the number of people convicted, down 8% to 92,334. 

The latest figures continue the general downward trend of the last ten years and are in contrast to the short term rise in court activity between 2012-13 and 2014-15. The decline in convictions in 2016-17 was apparently driven by falls in speeding (down 11%), crimes against public justice (down 11%), use of mobile phone offences (down 35%) and common assault (down 7%).

Other statistics in the report show that the number of people convicted for sexual crimes fell by 11% in 2016-17 to 1,037 convictions, from 1,163 in 2015-16. This is the lowest number of sexual crime convictions in five years, although levels remain 37% higher than in 2010-11 (756 convictions).

The increase since 2010-11 may, in part, reflect an increased level of reporting in the wake of high profile cases. There has been a corresponding rise in the number of people being proceeded against in court for sexual crimes, up 62% since 2010-11 from 933 proceedings to 1,510 in 2015-16, although this has also declined in 2016-17, by 7%.

Within sexual crimes, total convictions for rape and attempted rape decreased by 7% (from 105 convictions in 2015-16 to 98 in 2016-17). This compares to the number of proceedings for these crimes increasing by 16% to 251 proceedings in 2016-17.

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