Police Scotland – Crisis Hit? Stormy? Or Crime Rates Lowest in 40 Years? You Takes Your Choice…

Crime Falling, Police Scotland Doing an Excellent Job, reported No-one.(Except John Robertson in Talking Up Scotland and possibly other online bloggers. And possibly The National.)

Recorded crime is at its lowest level since 1974. The total number of crimes recorded by the police in Scotland in 2016-17 was 238,651. This is 3% lower than the level recorded in 2015-16. Crime has been on a downward trend in Scotland since 2006-07, having decreased by 43%. This continues a generally decreasing trend in recorded crime in Scotland, from a peak in 1991 when crime reached a record high of 572,921. (ScotGov Report, Sep2017)

And what does our Scottish media tell us? (My bold emphases)

Well this week, the Scotsman said, quoting Scottish LibDems:

‘MSP urges independent review of crisis-hit police: Police Scotland today faces calls for an independent review into its operation in order to trigger an “honest conversation” about where it has gone wrong over the last five years. For five stormy years, Police Scotland has been mired in controversies that have seen the departure of two chief constables, rows over police accountability and concern over operational policing.’

And BBC Scotland said, quoting Scottish Conservatives

‘Police Scotland in particular has faced criticism over a number of issues. The service is currently looking for its third chief, while the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) – one of several bodies created by the legislation – is on its third chief and third chairperson.’

And STV News said, quoting Scottish Labour

The committee must assess how this turmoil has affected policing and public safety.The SNP Government must acknowledge these issues and their own mistakes to improve Police Scotland over the next five years, rather than the same old intransigence they have shown over the past five years.’

Though STV also said, having done a bit of research and quoting Scottish Government official figures:

‘Despite criticism, national statistics published this week show crime in Scotland has fallen by around a third and 58% of respondents said police were doing a good or excellent job.’

"..assess how this turmoil has affected policing and public safety"...says Scottish Labour

Oh please yes, let’s do that. Though it makes you wonder why Scottish Labour didn’t do it for themselves since it only took me a minute to google Scottish Crime Figures. But they will have their reasons, I dare say. 

So here are the facts about crime in Scotland

There’s an upwards blip in the Scottish crime figures in 2004. This is because the criterion of what constituted a serious crime was changed and some crimes, which hadn’t been categorised as serious before 2004, were recategorised as serious. 

And just for interest here are also the crime figures for England and Wales. Spot the difference?

This first thing that struck me about these two sets of figures is how similar they are! And then how much crime has decreased in the whole of the UK in the last 15 years. So really police forces everywhere deserve a bit of praise, eh? Or at least if our Scottish Conservatives, LibDems and Labour politicians – let’s call them Scottish Unionists for the sake of brevity – are worried about Scottish policing they should also be feeding equally concerned stories about the state of policing in England & Wales to the media.

If you look carefully at the two sets of figures though you’ll soon see evidence that in fact our Scottish Unionist politicians should really be much less worried about policing in Scotland. Or to put it another way, perhaps they should more concerned about policing in their beloved Union. 

Look at 2016: in 2016 there were just under quarter of a million reported crimes in Scotland. And there were about six million recorded crimes in England wales. Yes, if you read this blog you can probably tell there is a comparison pie chart about to appear. (See here for other pie charts.)

and here’s another one I did earlier:


So let’s do some assessing of policing and public safety:

  • has there really been ‘turmoil’ in Police Scotland? Well it’s not good that two Police Chiefs have come and gone in five years. And it’s not good that the Scottish Polics Authority is on its third Chairperson. I don’t know how this compares with rUK but that doesn’t really matter. It’s clearly been a tough five years bedding in our new nation-wide Polis unitary force.
  • reported crime is down to its lowest level in 40 years in Scotland, and it’s much the same in England and Wales.
  • per head of the population, reported crimes in Scotland are half what they are in England.
  • per head of the population, there are one and a half times as many polis men and women in Scotland as in UK as a whole.
  • What do people feel about safety and crime? 58% of Scots say that the Polis are doing a good or excellent job.

I rest my case!! But I’m not holding my breath waiting for this is be reported in the Scotsman, BBC , Herald, or even STV though at least they did a bit of research themselves. Wouldn’t it be great to have a Scottish media who are even-handed in their reporting?

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