Crime has fallen substantially over the last 30 or so year, in Scotland and elsewhere. One of the main questions raised by the ‘crime drop’ is whether all groups in society have benefited, or whether some groups have seen larger reductions in crime than others. We make explicit the distinction between two different types of victimization inequality measure which have previously been used to study changing victimization inequality over the course of the crime drop - what we term adjusted and unadjusted measures. We argue that these two measures relate to conceptually distinct quantities of interest which can inform different types of policy response to changing victimization inequality, informing victimization prevention and victim support services respectively. We empirically analyse the change in victimization inequality in Scotland between 2008 and 2017 using these two types of victimization inequality measure, considering a range of socio-demographic factors.
We found that those aged 16-24 showed the largest falls in the victimization of any demographic group we analysed. We also see an increasing concentration of victimization amongst poor and marginalized groups (those experiencing financial hardship, living in the most deprived areas in Scotland and living in social housing) when analysing unadjusted victimization trends. However, there is much less change in the independent effects of area deprivation or social renting on victimization and only moderate evidence for an increasingly independent effect of financial hardship on victimization. Our adjusted victimization inequality measures also showed that people reporting a disability had substantially higher victimization rates than others people. Finally, we reveal large amounts of uncertainty in our estimates of victimization trends by ethnicity, revealing the limits of our knowledge about victimization amongst minority ethnic people in Scotland.
As the relationship between financial hardship and victimization seems to have increased, poverty reduction policies may also benefit in reduced levels of victimization. As victimization has become more concentrated in the most deprived parts of Scotland, victim support services may need to focus particularly on supporting people living in these areas. However, this concentration was not driven by stronger independent effects of living in a deprived area or in social housing on victimization, and so these factors may be less relevant for victimization prevention than financial hardship more generally. Before we can draw any policy conclusions about changing victimization inequality by ethnicity, we need better evidence about victimization levels amongst minority ethnic people in Scotland.