Understanding the crime drop in Scotland
In the first of the AQMeN Research Briefing paper series, Les Humphreys, Brian Francis and Susan McVie, from the Crime and Victimisation research strand, examined trends in crimes of dishonesty, non-sexual crimes of violence, motor vehicle offences and miscellaneous offences. They explored the relationship between these types of crime and a range of factors known to be associated with crime.
Overall trends in crimes and offences for Scotland from 1985 to 2012/13 show two distinct peaks, around 1992 and 2004; however, trends in four specific crime and offence groups vary widely.
Three potential explanatory factors correlated consistently with all or most of the four specific crime and offence groups, but otherwise there was no uniformity in the pattern of associations.
Factors which had emerged as correlates for several crime and offence groups were alcohol consumption, certainty of sanction and number of offenders in custody.
Looking at change over two shorter time periods we found that associations between potential explanatory factors and crime or offence groups were not stable and differed during different time periods.
Care needs to be taken when carrying out regression analyses on crime data because the potential drivers of crime may change very slowly and long term change is likely to be accompanied by short term volatility.