In times of economic recession, financial hardship motivates to push previously law-abiding people towards crime (Fintrail). Is the economic recession in Scotland causing a rise in crimes? Did dishonesty crimes such as theft increase in Scotland in 2022?
Crimes at the lowest level
According to Daily Record, recorded crime has fallen to its lowest level in Scotland in almost 50 years. Police recorded 285,974 crimes in the year ending June 2022, down from 300,747 crimes during the previous 12 months. Overall, recorded crimes were lower than pre-pandemic levels during the year to June 2018. Antisocial offences were 2 per cent lower than the last year and 14 per cent lower than the year before June 2018.
According to Daily Record, Justice Secretary Keith Brown says:
We know that Scotland continues to be a safe place to live. It is a country where most people do not experience crime. The latest figures show that recorded crime is at the lowest level since 1974. This is welcome as it means that every year there are thousands fewer victims in Scotland than there were 15 years ago.
Scottish Government Website says in the year ending June 2022, crimes against society were 14% lower compared to the year ending June 2021. Crimes decreased from 69,030 to 59,180. However, the crimes were 3% higher than in the year ending June 2018. The crimes increased from 57,704 to 59,180 crimes. The number of offences recorded by the police in Scotland in the year ending June 2022 was 176,960. This is 7% lower than the 189,677 offences recorded in the year ending June 2021 and 10% lower than the 196,848 offences recorded in the year ending June 2018.
Crimes at the highest level
As the Scottish Government Website (30 August 2022) says, non-sexual crimes of violence were 9% higher compared to the year ending June 2021. These crimes increased from 64,080 to 70,156 crimes. These crimes were 5% higher compared to the year ending June 2018. They rose from 66,540 to 70,156 crimes. Sexual crimes were 7% higher compared to the year ending June 2021. They increased from 13,939 to 14,880 crimes. Moreover, sexual crimes were 14% higher compared to the year ending June 2018. They rose from 13,055 to 14,880 crimes. Furthermore, crimes of dishonesty were 9% higher compared to the year ending June 2021.
Crimes of dishonesty
As the Scottish Government (30 August 2022) says, crimes of dishonesty were 9% higher compared to the year ending June 2021. They increased from 89,259 to 97,207 crimes. It says in the Scottish Government (28 June 2022) that crimes of dishonesty are the most influential crime group. They account for about a third (32%) of all crime in Scotland in 2021-22. Between 2020-21 and 2021-22, the number of crimes of dishonesty recorded by the police in Scotland increased by 4%. It grew from 89,731 to 92,873. The national rate of recorded crimes of dishonesty was 170 per 10,000 population in 2021-22. This figure was an increase from 164 per 10,000 population in 2020-21.
According to the Scottish Government (28 June 2022), in 2021-22, of all crimes of dishonesty:
- Other theft accounted for 36%. This has consistently been the most significant category
- Shoplifting accounted for 25%
- Fraud accounted for 18%
- Housebreaking accounted for 9%
- Theft of and from a motor vehicle together accounted for 7%
- Other dishonesty accounted for 4%
- Theft by opening lockfast places accounted for 1%
As The Scotsman (31 August 2022) says, the number of high-value fraud cases reaching court saw a “dramatic” 442 per cent increase compared to last year. KPMG UK’s latest Fraud Barometer tracks the number of alleged fraud cases exceeding £100,000 being heard in Scottish courts. Fourteen cases with a total value of £14.1 million reached Scottish courts in the first six months of this year. This figure is up 442 per cent from £2.6m over the same period in 2021.
What has caused the recession in the UK, including Scotland?
As Fintrail says, historically, mortgage fraud, identity theft, and employee-related schemes have all increased during economic recessions. The consequences of financial hardship have two angles. On the one hand, individuals are more likely to fall victim to illegal lending services or other fraudulent schemes. On the other hand, they may be more drawn to commit financial crimes themselves to stay afloat.
An article in Le Monade discusses the causes of economic recession in the UK. Le Monade says Just short of two years since Brexit officially came into effect, investments and trade are declining in the UK. “It’s not Brexit causing the recession, which is down to the war in Ukraine and rising prices, as elsewhere, but Brexit has reduced the cruising speed of the British economy,” said John Springford of the Centre for European Reform thinktank.
Over ten years ago, following the 2007–2009 recession, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners released its survey results, concluding that intense financial pressure during the economic crisis led to an increase in fraud (SEON). Regarding the relationship between financial crimes and economic turmoil, Fintrail says small-scale financial crimes appear to increase during a recession.
As Annette Barker says, “The dramatic increase of fraud cases coming to light in Scotland is worrying“. Annette Barker is the head of KPMG Forensic in the UK (The Scotsman). The decisions made in Westminster have certainly caused the economic crisis in Scotland. Westminster’s mismanagement of the pandemic, wrong decisions about spending a lot on Ukraine’s war, and Brexit have caused economic hardship for Scotland. As a result, the financial crisis has led to a rise in crimes of dishonesty, such as theft and fraud.