Police Scotland car

Police Scotland: 10 years in 10 charts

Scotland’s national police force, Police Scotland, is ten years old. 

It was formed in 2013 after the Scottish Government decided to combine Scotland’s eight regional police forces, the serious organised crime unit and the police services authority. 

The centralisation of policing in Scotland has been controversial. There have been several high profile incidents and the force was criticised for discrimination allegedly present within its internal culture.

To mark its tenth anniversary, Ferret Fact Service has put together 10 charts showing how the force has fared in 10 different areas. 

Ferret Fact Service | Scotland's impartial fact check project

Police officer numbers

Officer numbers remained fairly consistent from when Police Scotland was formed in 2013, up until 2021.

Since the middle of 2021 there has been a reduction of more than 600 full-time equivalent (FTE) police officers.

Officers available per region

Greater Glasgow has the most police officers of any Scottish region, as it covers the largest number of people.

All regional areas reduced numbers of FTE officers between the end of 2020 and 2022.

These statistics show the officers available to each region. This includes those officers working in more than one police division, and those who work across Scotland in specialist crime resources and support roles.

Officers by 10,000 population

There has been a slight reduction in the number of officers per 10,000 head of population in Scotland since 2013.

Statistics up to 2021 show 31.5 officers per 10,000, a reduction of one officer per 10,000 since Police Scotland began.

Clear up rate

A crime or offence is considered 'cleared up' when there is enough evidence to justify the consideration of criminal proceedings. This means someone does not neccesarily have to be charged or prosecuted for the crime to be considered 'cleared up'.

Further information on clear up rates is available here.

Scotland's clear up rate hovered between 53 and 56 per cent until 2020-21 when it spiked to over 59 per cent. This increase is likely due to the impact of Covid-19 on the types of crime committed.

Coronavirus restriction related crimes and road traffic offences are not included in these statistics.

Total Crime

Total crimes have reduced fairly consistently since hitting a high of 613,943 in 1991.

In 2021-22, there were 286,464 crimes recorded by Police Scotland.

Crime rate

The crime rate looks at the number of crimes recorded by 10,000 population, and is collated annually by the Scottish Government.

Total crimes per 10,000 have reduced in the 10 years of Police Scotland, while crimes of violence have remained fairly static. Sexual crimes have increased.

Sexual crimes

The total number of sexual crimes has increased 74 per cent in the last 10 years, as have the number of crimes where the main victim was under 18.

Racially aggravated crimes

Racially-aggravated offences recorded by police have reduced by nearly 1,000 in the ten years since Police Scotland was established.

The latest statistics for 2021-22 showed there were 1,713 racially aggravated offences recorded.

Allegations against officers

Allegations against police officers are published by the Scottish Police Authority.

In the past five years there has been an increase in the number of allegations made, from 10,359 to 11,027.

Most allegations are made about officers on duty, while the majority of others are about the quality of service.

Police discrimination allegations

The police allegations data is broken down across different categories.

Allegations of discriminatory behaviour in police complaints have increased over the last five years from 64 to 120.

Photo credit: iStock/jgshields

Update: This article was updated on 11 April to add context around the police officers available to each region.

1 comment
  1. Total number of officers around 16000, but number added up over 13 regions well over double that?

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