Date lodged: 12 January 2017
To ask the Scottish Government what its position is on recording common assaults as an offence rather than a crime, and whether it plans to change this practice.
Answered by: Michael Matheson 26 January 2017
The Scottish Government reports on recorded crime in the same way as previous administrations, with more serious criminal acts generally defined as crimes and other usually less serious criminal acts defined as offences. This distinction has applied to Scotland’s crime statistics since the 1920s and has no bearing on how the police will investigate an incident. Any change to the classification and counting rules for police recorded crime is a matter for the Scottish Crime Recording Board.
The Board recently considered new research into the nature of violence contained within police recorded common assault records, the findings of which were published within the 2015-16 Recorded Crime in Scotland bulletin. This found that common assault covers a wide range of actions – with around half involving no or very little injury to the victim.
Following the publication of this research, the Board agreed a follow-up action at its November 2016 meeting for each member to collect their wider organisation’s view of the current approach to grouping crimes and offences. A summary of these views will then be prepared for and considered at the next meeting in March.