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Recorded Crime in Scotland: Other Sexual Crimes, 2013-14 and 2016-17

This report presents information about the characteristics of crimes recorded by Police Scotland within the ‘Other sexual crimes’ category. This is one of four categories Police Scotland use to record sexual crimes - the other three being ‘Rape and attempted rape’, ‘Sexual Assault’ and ‘Crimes associated with prostitution’.

The ‘Other sexual crimes’ category is made up of a wide range of sexual crimes. The three most common being ‘Communicating indecently’, ‘Cause to view sexual activity or images’ and ‘Indecent photos of children’.

The report provides information about ‘Other sexual crimes’ which have come to the attention of the police. It does not provide information on the characteristics of all ‘Other sexual crimes’ committed in society, as not all of these crimes are reported to the police.

The information presented is based on a sample of police records (rather than all records) and provides a broad indication of the characteristics of the ‘Other sexual crimes’ category, rather than an exact measure.

The number of ‘Other sexual crimes’ recorded by the police has grown significantly in recent years, up 50% from 2,901 in 2013-14 to 4,360 by 2016- 17 (Chart 1). This increase was the biggest contributor to the growth seen in all sexual crimes recorded by the police during this period (up 26% from 8,604 in 2013-14 to 10,822 in 2016-17). In contrast, the total number of crimes recorded in Scotland during this time has continued to fall (down 12% from 270,397 to 238,651).

As of 2015-16, ‘Other sexual crimes’ overtook ‘Sexual assault’ as the most prevalent category of recorded sexual crime within the National Statistics1. This remained the case in 2016-17, with 40% of all recorded sexual crimes accounted for by ‘Other sexual crimes’ – followed by ‘Sexual assault’ (almost 40%), ‘Rape & attempted rape’ (17%) and ‘Crimes associated with prostitution’ (3%).

Discussions among Justice partners following the publication of the 2015-16 National Statistics (in September 2016) suggested that many of the crimes recorded as ‘Other sexual crimes’ could be cyber enabled crimes (i.e. where the internet has been used to commit the crime) - and that new research would help to gather a better understanding of the nature and circumstances of this type of sexual offending. This research was undertaken during February to August 2017, with the findings presented in this report.