Crime Audit 2020

10 March 2021

The aim of this audit was to assess the state, efficiency and effectiveness of crime recording by Police Scotland and the extent to which practice complies with the Scottish Crime Recording Standard and Counting Rules. This audit follows similar audits of crime recording carried out by HMICS in 2013, 2014 and 2016.

Crime Audit 2020 provides a comprehensive, independent audit of crime data, identified as necessary by the Office of Statistics Regulation (OSR).

The results of our Crime Audit 2020 will provide the public and key stakeholders with up-to-date information on which to base their assessment of the accuracy of crime statistics and will highlight to Police Scotland areas of good practice as well as areas for improvement.

Through our audit, we also sought to assess the extent to which previous recommendations regarding crime recording have been implemented by Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority.

We tested the accuracy of crime recording by auditing incident and crime records. We examined over 7177 incidents, 2525 crime reports and 3901 crimes. We examined records in five categories: sexual crime; violence; domestic abuse; non-crime related incidents; and no-crimes.




The Scottish Police Authority and Police Scotland should ensure that the results of internal and external crime recording audits are publicly reported, including a statement of compliance in their joint Annual Report and Accounts from 2020/21 onwards.


Police Scotland should revise its current Crime Recording Strategy to focus on effective implementation and better consider the required level of cultural change required to improve SCRS compliance.


Police Scotland should review its overall approach to incident compliance, considering what constitutes best practice in quality assurance processes in C3, specialist units and front line policing, establishing clear relative roles and responsibilities.


Police Scotland should review crime management unit structures taking the opportunity to maximise the benefits of the new single national crime recording system.


Police Scotland should develop a comprehensive approach to organisational learning and training, with consistent approaches to the introduction of new or changes to legislation, to more effectively support delivery of its crime recording strategy.


It is recommended that the Police Scotland COS Programme review its approach to business change as part of the implementation of the new single national crime recording system, taking the opportunity to standardise and streamline business, audit and quality assurance processes.

Publication type: 
Inspection report