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Homicides figures at lowest level in 39 years

Published: 29 Sep 2015 10:15
Part of:
Law and order

Decrease of 2 per cent compared to previous year.

The number of homicides committed in Scotland have fallen by a further 2 per cent and are now at their lowest recorded levels.

The latest Homicide in Scotland figures show that there were 59 victims of homicide in 2014-15. The majority of cases (68 per cent) occurred within a dwelling and were carried out by an individual known to the victim (78 per cent of cases).

In 56 per cent of cases, a sharp instrument was the main method used and over a third of those accused of homicide in 2014-15 were reported to have been under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs at the time.

Males accounted for 91 per cent of those accused of homicide in 2014-15 and 76 per cent of victims of homicides.

Latest figures also show that the number of homicides in Glasgow have more than halved since 2005/06, falling by 56 per cent. Over the last ten years, Glasgow City has accounted for half of the total fall in homicides across Scotland.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said:

"It is encouraging to see another fall in homicides in Scotland, now at their lowest level in 39 years. This continues the downward trajectory we have been seeing in recent years which is to be welcomed.

"The country is becoming safer as a result of the combined efforts of Scotland's communities and law enforcement agencies. However, the impact of homicide is far-reaching, it has devastating consequences and we must not forget the grieving families who are left behind coping with the death of a loved one.

"Scotland's law enforcement agencies are working hard to bring those responsible to justice and we are making strides in preventing and reducing all forms of violent crime, including attempted murder and serious assault. There will be no let-up in efforts.

"Alcohol continues to play a role in a number of homicides. In Government, we are taking action to address our country's damaging relationship with alcohol and are continuing to discourage people from excessive alcohol consumption given the dangers to the health of individuals. This includes bringing in legislation on minimum pricing alongside existing measures against irresponsible promotions. Recreational drug use is also falling, particularly amongst young people.

"We've also seen encouraging falls in knife carrying in Scotland, particularly amongst young people, through a combination of education and tough enforcement. Our courts discharge the toughest sentencing regime in the UK for knife crime and we are continuing to invest in the successful No Knives, Better Lives campaign aimed at educating people about the dangers of knives.

"The actions we are taking, together with our partners such as police – over 1,000 extra since 2007 - and prosecutors, are making Scotland a safer place to live. However, we cannot and will not be complacent and will continue in our efforts to bring down the number of homicides in Scotland even further."

Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham, Major Crime and Public Protection, said:

"Homicide rates are now at their lowest levels since recording began; this means fewer victims, fewer families who have suffered the loss of a loved one through violence and fewer communities affected by the aftershocks of a murder.

"Since the advent of Police Scotland, every murder committed has been detected. We have developed a very high standard of investigating major crimes, including homicide. Our Major Investigation Team (MIT) structure means we have a strong team of experienced specialist investigators supporting local policing wherever and whenever such a crime occurs. MITs have delivered a consistent and professional approach to all such investigations, using specialist skills and the latest investigative techniques and technologies. This ensures flexibility and equity of service across Scotland.

"The approach applied to murders which happen in 2015 is also applied to unsolved cases with historical cases reviewed through the prism of today's investigative standards with the intention of bringing those responsible to justice, often many years after the crime was committed, and bringing closure to families and communities."

Karyn McCluskey, Director of Scotland's Violence Reduction Unit said:

"Ten years ago the Violence Reduction Unit was formed to tackle Glasgow's addiction to violence. A decade on, Glasgow and Scotland are changing. We are a safer country thanks to communities pulling together. But we cannot be complacent.

"Alcohol is too often at the root of violence. It was a factor in half of all homicides over the last decade. Scotland needs to have an honest conversation about the harm alcohol can and does cause. "

Notes to editors

In the year 1976-77 there 75 reported victims of homicide. This compares to 59 victims of homicide in 2014-15.

In the year 1976-77 there 73 reported cases of homicide. This compares to 59 cases of homicide in 2014-15.

The full statistical publication can be found here: