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Figures Reveal Rise in Sexual Cyber-Crime

Scotland’s Chief Statistician has recently published its latest figures on the number of recorded crimes in Scotland.

Recorded Crime Statistics

The Recorded Crime in Scotland 2016/17 statistics show:
  • Crimes recorded by the police in Scotland fell by 3% from 246,243 to 238,651, the lowest level of recorded crime since 1974
  • The number of non-sexual violent crimes was 6% higher last year compared to 2015-16, though still 49% lower than 2006-07
  • Crimes of handling offensive weapons are at their second lowest level since 1984
  • Crimes of dishonesty, crimes of fire-raising, vandalism etc and other crimes (mostly drug related or crimes against public justice) all decreased from 2015/16 levels.
  • Sexual crimes increased by 5% from 10,273 in 2015-16 to 10,822 in 2016-17.

Rise in Sexual Cyber-Crime

At the same time as the latest recorded crimes figures were released, the Government published the findings of research commissioned by Justice Secretary Michael Matheson, which suggests that around half of the growth in all recorded sexual crimes between 2013-14 and 2016-17 has been due to growth in sexual ‘cyber-crime’.
The findings, which follow a recent summit hosted by the Solicitor General on educating young people on sexual crimes, also indicate that victims were younger for cyber enabled sexual crime, with a median age of 14 and around three-quarters being under the age of 16 in 2016-17. In contrast, victims of non-cyber enabled crime had a median age of 23.
Perpetrators were also younger for cyber enabled crimes of this type, with a median age of 18 in 2016-17, and more than half under 20. In contrast, perpetrators of non-cyber enabled crime had a median age of 36.
These crimes tend to involve a perpetrator targeting someone who was younger than them. The median gap in victim and perpetrator ages was much smaller where these crimes were cyber enabled. Almost a quarter of cyber enabled crime had a victim and perpetrator who were both under 16 in 2016-17 (compared to 8% for non-cyber enabled crimes).

Preventing Sexual Offending

“The sexual crimes research makes clear that more work is required to understand why particularly young males are behaving in this way and to prevent sexual offending, building on the recent Education Summit held by the Solicitor General,” commented Mr Matheson.
“While we have taken considerable steps in this area, such as our recent ‘intimate images’ campaign, the national action plan on internet safety and our ‘Equally Safe’ strategy, I am bringing together an expert group to identify further steps needed to better-tackle and ultimately prevent such offending,” he said.
“Too many children and young people are coming into contact with our justice system as a result of sexual offending, and we know that technology has an increasingly significant part to play,” added Solicitor General Alison Di Rollo QC. “I convened the Education Summit last month to emphasise the need to protect our young people by educating them about their rights and responsibilities under the criminal law.”
“I am delighted that this new expert group will now build on the success of the summit, and acting on the key messages we heard, identify and take the next steps to inform and protect our young people,” she said. “COPFS will provide our experience and expertise to the group and together better tackle and prevent sexual offending among young people.”

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Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.


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