The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey ( SCJS) is a large-scale continuous survey measuring adults' experience and perceptions of crime in Scotland. The survey is based on, annually, 16,000 face-to-face interviews with adults (aged 16 or over) living in private households in Scotland.
The main aims of the SCJS are to:
- Provide a valid and reliable measure of adults' experience of crime, including services provided to victims of crime;
- Examine trends in the number and nature of crimes in Scotland over time;
- Examine the varying risk of crime for different groups of adults in the population;
- Collect information about adults' experiences of, and attitudes to, a range of crime and justice related issues.
This report presents the results for the second full year of the survey, with interviews conducted be t ween April 2009 and March 2010. The report from the first year of the survey (2008/09) was published in October 2009. 2
Throughout the report, the term 'crime' is used to refer to any in-scope incident recorded by the survey, occurring during the interview reference period and in Scotland, in which the respondent or their household as a whole was the victim. 3
1.1 Survey background and methodology
Crime and victimisation surveys have been carried out in Scotland since the early 1980s. The geographical coverage, sample size, method and fieldwork and reference periods have varied across previous crime surveys (Box 1.1).
Box 1.1: Past Scottish crime and victimisation surveys
- 1982, 1988: British Crime Survey ( BCS) included coverage of central and southern Scotland only.
- 1993: First independent Scottish Crime Survey ( SCS) launched, based on BCS and covering the whole of Scotland.
- 1996, 2000, 2003: Further sweeps of the SCS.
- 2004, 2006: Scottish Crime and Victimisation Survey ( SCVS).
- 2008/09: Scottish Crime and Justice Survey ( SCJS)
The SCJS was launched in April 2008, and represented a major departure from the design, methodology and sample size of previous surveys. The main changes introduced with the SCJS were an increase in the sample size (to 16,000 adults from around 5,000 in most previous surveys) and a move to continuous fieldwork throughout the financial year using a rolling reference period for the victimisation module. The increase in sample size enhances the statistical reliability of the estimates produced by the survey.
The design of the 2009/10 SCJS remains the same as the 2008/09 survey (with the exception of a change to the sample design resulting in the redistribution of interviews within Police Force Areas - Annex 2):
- Sample : a systematic random selection of private residential addresses across Scotland was produced and allocated in batches to interviewers. Interviewers called at addresses and obtained information on all household members and then selected at random one adult (aged 16 or over) for interview at each address. The sample was designed to be representative of all private residential households across Scotland (with the exception of some of the smaller islands) over the 12 month fieldwork period;
- Interviews : 16,036 interviews were conducted in respondents' homes by professional interviewers using Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing ( CAPI) machines;
- Questionnaire : the questionnaire consists of a modular design, including a victimisation module, demographic section, four quarter-sample modules on varying topics (section A2.2) and a Computer Assisted Self Interviewing ( CASI) self-completion section covering sensitive crimes (sexual victimisation, partner abuse and illicit drug use). Interviews lasted an average of 40 minutes, though there was considerable variation in interview length, in particular where respondents reported experiencing one or more incident of victimisation;
- Fieldwork : all interviews were conducted between 1 st April 2009 and 31 st March 2010, with roughly an equal number of interviews conducted in each month;
- Time period covered : interviews were conducted on a rolling basis over the course of a year and respondents were asked about incidents experienced in the 12 months prior to the month of interview (the reference period). The time period covered by the data included in this report extends over 23 months (as interviews were conducted across 12 months) so is not directly comparable with any calendar year ( Annex 2);
- Weighting : the results obtained were weighted to correct for the unequal probability of selection for interview caused by the sample design and for differences in the level of response among groups of individuals.
The survey response rate was 70%.
Further information about the design and methodology is contained in Annex 2 and in the accompanying Technical Report. 4
1.2 Purpose and limitations of the SCJS
One of the main functions of crime and victimisation surveys is that they provide a complementary measure of crime compared with police recorded crime statistics ( Chapter 2). Counts of police recorded crime are limited in that, for or a variety of reasons, not all incidents of victimisation are reported to, or recorded by, the police. In addition, police recorded crime statistics are affected by changes in policing policy and police recording practice.
By asking adults about their experiences including incidents that are not reported to or not recorded by the police, crime surveys can overcome some of the limitations to police recorded crime statistics and provide a more complete picture of victimisation rates. 5 In doing this, the SCJS focuses attention on the victims of crime and provides data on which groups are most at risk of certain crimes. Additionally, the survey provides information on the criminal justice system and on adults' experience of problems and disputes that can be settled in court.
However, crime and victimisation surveys are not without their limitations and the SCJS is no exception. The SCJS does not aim to provide an absolute count of all crime and has notable exclusions.
It is a survey of adults living in private residential households and therefore does not provide information on crimes against adults living in other circumstances (for example those living in institutions, such as prisons or hospitals, or other communal accommodation, such as military bases and student accommodation). Those living in some of the smallest inhabited islands in Scotland are excluded for practical reasons (see the accompanying Technical Report for details).
It excludes persons under the age of 16 and crimes against businesses (for example, shoplifting). Other crimes outside the survey's coverage include those that are 'victimless', such as speeding, or where a victim cannot be interviewed, such as homicide. Whilst details of threats are collected in the survey, they are not included in the crime statistics as it is hard to establish whether or not an offence has been committed. Sexual offences are also not explicitly collected in the victimisation module, but are collected in the self-completion section and reported separately; thus they are not included in the all SCJS crime statistics.
As with any survey, the results can only represent the experience of the adults in the sample who take part; if the experiences of those who cannot be contacted, or who refuse to take part, are different from those who are interviewed, and this cannot be corrected by weighting, then the survey will not reflect the experiences of the adults of Scotland as a whole. Measures are taken to ensure the representativeness of the sample as far as possible. For example, interviewers must make a minimum of 8 calls at an address on different days of the week and at different times of the day to attempt to obtain contact at a selected address.
There may also be errors in the recall of participants as to when certain incidents took place, resulting in some crimes being wrongly included in, or excluded from, the reference period. Again, a number of steps in the design of the questionnaire are taken to ensure, as far as possible, that this does not happen, for example repeating key date questions in more detail.
It is also possible that public perceptions of crime and victimisation may change over time, and result in changes in how adults consider incidents from survey to survey.
The SCJS results, like the results of other sample-based surveys, are also subject to sampling error. To indicate the extent of this error, the confidence intervals for the key statistics presented in this report are provided in Annex 4. These confidence intervals are bands within which the 'true' value lies (i.e. that value which would be obtained if a census of the entire population was undertaken). These confidence intervals are calculated to the 95% level, meaning that we would expect the survey data to lie within this range 95 times if the survey were to be repeated 100 times, each with a different randomly selected sample of adults.
In spite of these limitations the results of this survey provide the best available indicator of rates of adult victimisation in Scotland.
1.3 Comparing estimates of crime
Care needs to be taken with the comparison of estimates between one survey and another.
Most of the comparisons made in this report are between the 2008/09 and 2009/10 surveys. The 2008/09 and 2009/10 surveys have similar sample sizes and design, although additional stratification at Local Authority level in 2009/10 increased the disproportion within the design. Scottish crime surveys prior to 2008/09 had substantially different sampling to the 2008/09 and 2009/10 surveys (section 1.1) which needs to be kept in mind when comparing data over time.
In contrast to previous surveys, the SCJS uses continuous year-round fieldwork with a rolling reference period. This change from 2008/09 onwards represents a fundamental change in the methodology of crime and victimisation surveys in Scotland and cannot be discounted fully as a possible explanation of change when looking at data from surveys prior to the SCJS.
The smaller sample size of surveys between 1993 and 2006 means that the confidence intervals associated with the data are larger than those associated with the SCJS. As a result for the SCJS, estimates of crime, especially those that are less common, for example robbery, are more statistically reliable than the estimates produced by previous surveys.
Many features of the SCJS have not altered from previous surveys. The fundamental structure of the questionnaire and wording of key questions has not changed. In particular, questions used to screen for being a victim of crime and those used in assigning offence codes remain unchanged.
The design of the SCJS is very similar to the British Crime Survey ( BCS) which covers England and Wales only and which introduced continuous interviewing and a rolling reference period from 2000/2001.
1.4 The structure of the report
This report presents the initial findings from the SCJS 2009/10. It includes data for the majority of questions contained in the survey questionnaire and some simple one-to-one relationships between survey variables. The report does not include in-depth, multivariate statistical analysis that would explore the more complex underlying relationships within the data.
The structure is as follows:
Chapter 2 examines the extent and distribution of crime, estimating how many crimes were committed and proportions of different types of crime within that. The extent of crime identified in the SCJS is contextualised using three sets of complementary data: time-series data from previous surveys, police recorded crime statistics in 2009/10 and results from the BCS. The limitations of the comparisons are also presented. The chapter ends by examining the risk ( prevalence ) of being a victim of crime in total and of various crime groups. The risk of being a victim of card and identity fraud is also briefly examined.
Chapter 3 explores the risk and characteristics of crime in more detail. It starts by identifying the unequal risk of being a victim of crime among different groups of adults and the risk of being a repeat victim. Characteristics of crimes and offender(s) are investigated. The use of weapons in crime is identified and the extent of alcohol and drug use in violent crime is explored.
Chapter 4 explores the impact and perceptions of crime. In this chapter the impact of crime on victims, including monetary impacts of property crime and injuries sustained in violent crime is identified. The victims' perspective of the crime itself and their opinion of potential outcomes for the offender(s) are also investigated.
Chapter 5 focuses on reporting crime and support for victims, first looking at the advice and support available to victims from a range of organisations. It provides more detail about the rate and process of reporting crime to the police. Information and assistance provided to victims, where crimes are investigated and where they result in a court case, is also covered.
Chapter 6 provides information on adults' perceptions of crime, investigating the extent to which they perceive crime as a problem and are anxious about becoming a victim of crime. It examines how public perception of crime has changed over time and the extent of the gap between perceived likelihood of being a victim and actual risk of victimisation.
Chapter 7 explores the public's confidence in the police in relation to specific aspects of policing and attitudes to aspects of the service provided by police in the local area. Perceptions of the level of police presence in local areas and attitudes to being stopped and questioned by the police are also reported.
Chapter 8 presents information about aspects of the justice system. Initially it focuses on awareness and perceptions of the criminal justice system and component organisations. It then explores knowledge and perceptions of sentencing. Adults' experience of a range of civil law problems is also examined in this chapter.
Annex 1 presents the detailed tabulations of the key crime data discussed in the report, including incidence and prevalence statistics. Annex 2 provides detail of the method used in the survey. Annex 3 explains how information on crimes was collected and processed as well as detail on how crimes are grouped and how they link together. Annex 4 includes information on sampling error and the confidence intervals and design effects for key survey estimates, as well as information on the weighting applied to data. Annex 5 provides a note on comparing survey estimates of crime with police recorded crime statistics. Annex 6 includes information on comparing crime estimated by the SCJS with the BCS.
The Annexes to this report are complemented and expanded on by the accompanying Technical Report. 6
Data from the self-completion section of the survey questionnaire, covering sexual victimisation, partner abuse and illicit drug use are published in three separate reports. 7
Data files and survey documentation are available from the UK Data Archive. 8