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Increasing public confidence and reducing fear of crime


While crime in Scotland is at a 39-year-low many people think that it is actually increasing. For most crimes people think that they are more at risk than statistics show. For example, people are 25 times more likely to think that they will be mugged or robbed in the street than the actual risk.

We want people to feel safer in their homes and communities and have confidence in a justice system that treats people fairly and with respect.


We will help change perceptions of crime and build people’s confidence in the justice system by:

  • gathering evidence and insight on what works to improve confidence and reduce fear of crime. This involves working with people in communities to identify the issues that affect them, using social marketing techniques such as focus groups, looking at how improving police contact with the public can impact on confidence and working with young people around issues of safety
  • providing visible policing, supported by our commitment to maintain 1,000 extra officers in communities
  • ensuring that victims and witnesses have positive experiences of, and confidence in, the justice system
  • ensuring that people who commit crimes are dealt with through consistent sentencing, effective community-based punishments and, for the most serious offenders, prison sentences
  • working with criminal justice partners to reduce business volumes through a range of measures such as increasing early guilty pleas and the use of new technology in the system to make the court process more efficient. The Local Criminal Justice Boards are an important part of this as they bring partners together to agree how these policies are implemented at a local level
  • transforming the civil justice system which will help people resolve problems quicker, minimising the distress caused by issues such as debt, family disputes or housing problems


The Strategy for Justice in Scotland sets out our approach to make the Scottish justice system fit for the 21st century.

Our Reassuring the Public Programme is co-ordinating projects across Scotland to gather evidence and insight on what works to improve confidence and reduce fear of crime.

There are a range of interlinking factors that can impact on individuals fear of crime and confidence such as: visible and accessible policing, personal experience of crime and contact with justice agencies, perceptions of personal risk and vulnerability, antisocial behaviour such as litter, graffiti, drunken behaviour and inconsiderate neighbours.

Reducing fear of crime and improving confidence in the justice system is likely to lead to better compliance and co-operation with the law and improved crime reporting and engagement with justice authorities. This approach will support community engagement and cohesion leading to people feeling safer in their homes and communities.

Who we are working with

The Reassuring the Public Programme is overseen by a cross-sector Justice Board. The Justice Board brings together:

  • the Chief Constable of Police Scotland
  • the Chief Officer of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service
  • the Chief Executives of the largest justice bodies who need to collaborate in order to deliver the programmes

We have also set up a wider network for the justice community which brings together partners and stakeholders from across the justice system and related sectors to share views and experiences, including:

  • YoungScot
  • Scottish Institute of Policing Research
  • University of Edinburgh
  • Police Scotland
  • Scottish Court Service
  • Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service
  • Scottish Community Development Centre
  • Scottish Prison Service

How Scotland is performing

Scotland Performs measures and reports on the progress of government in Scotland. The National Outcomes describe what we want to achieve over the next 10 years.

National Outcome: We have strong, resilient and supportive communities where people take responsibility for their own actions and how they affect others

Justice Outcomes