THE number of crimes committed in Scotland has almost halved in the past decade, according to the Scottish Government’s annual survey.

The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey for 2018/19, which includes crimes not reported to the police, found the volume of offences had declined by 45 per cent since 2008/09.

Based on 5,537 face-to-face interviews, the survey also found crimes had fallen by a fifth since 2016/17.

The proportion of the Scots population who experienced a crime in 2018/19 was 12.4%, down from 20.4% in 2008/09.

However the survey findings do not include sexual offences, which are not due to be reported until combined with the 2019/20 data.

Around 8.9% of Scots adults experienced a single crime, with these offences amounting to more than two-fifths of all crimes.

However the 3.5% of Scots who experienced two or more crimes accounted for 55% of all crimes, while the 0.7% who were repeat victims experienced 60% of all violent crimes.

The victimisation rate is lower in Scotland than in England and Wales, where it 12.4% and 14.9% respectively in 2018/19.

In 2018/19, 10.9% of adults were estimated to have been a victim of property crime and 2.2% a victim of violent crime, down from 18% and 4.1% in 2008/09 respectively.

The likelihood of being a victim of any crime was higher in deprived and urban areas of Scotland, with 16 to 24 year olds the most likely age group to be victims of violent crime. 

Overall, there were an estimated 573,000 crimes in 2018/19, of which 408,000 or 71% were property crimes and 165,000, or 29%, were violent crimes. 

Since 2008/09, property crime has fallen by 44% whilst violent crime was down 48% over the same time period, although the figures were essentially unchanged since 2017/18. 

Most violent incidents were cases of minor assault resulting in negligible or no injury (60%), with instances of serious assault (7%) and robbery (3%) relatively uncommon.

Labour highlighted a finding that 54% of violent crimes take place in private spaces, such as domestic abuse, with 33% of violent incidents in the victim’s home.

More than 70% of violent crimes were also committed by people who knew the victim.

In a third of these incidents, the perpetrator was a current or former partner.

Labour MSP James Kelly said: “We know that women, people in deprived areas and victims of crime were less likely to feel safe, more likely to be worried about specific types of crime, and more likely to think they will experience crime in the coming year.

“Considering the effects of Scotland’s lockdown measures on crime, it is vital that the police and the government are proactive in ensuring that that the public safety is a priority.”

Humza Yousaf said the figures were encouraging but there could be no complacency.

The Justice Secretary said: “We continue to invest in Scotland’s excellent police service and in communities themselves – through education and a range of projects, to help people to stay safe, to steer those at risk of being drawn into crime away from it and to support those with convictions to turn away from offending.

“Where people do fall victim to crime, the Scottish Government has been investing millions of pounds and implementing reforms to strengthen how the justice system, wider public services and other organisations can support them.”

The survey also looked at public attitudes to wards the police and justice system. 

Barely more than half of adults, 56%, said the police in their local area did an excellent or good job, down from 61% when the question was first put in 2012/13. 

Victims of crime and those living in the 15% most deprived areas were less likely to feel this way about the police.

Three-quarters of adults were confident the justice system offered those accused of crimes  a fair trial, but were sceptical about the sentences handed down to offenders.

Only 37% were confident that sentences fitted the crime, while 58% were not confident.

More than three-quarters (78%) said they felt very or fairly safe walking alone in their neighbourhood after dark, up from 66% in 2008/09.

But the proportion of adults aware of the police regularly patrolling their area was down from 56% in 2012/13 to 38% in 2018/19.