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Lowest recorded crime levels in a generation

Published: 8 Sep 2015 09:30
Part of:
Law and order

Violent crime at lowest levels since 1974.

Recorded crime in Scotland has reached a record 41 year low, according to official statistics published today.

During Police Scotland's second year of operation, crimes went down by 5 per cent to 256,350 in 2014-15 compared to 270,397 in the previous year and are at the lowest level since 1974.

Key figures from the Recorded Crime in Scotland report 2014-15 show:

  • Violent crime fell by 6 per cent in 2014-15 to 6,357 compared to 6,785 in 2013-14. These levels are at their lowest since 1974
  • The crime clear up rate decreased slightly but is still the third highest since comparable records began in 1976
  • Sexual crimes increased by 11 per cent last year. Police Scotland say just under half of this increase (around 45 per cent) is through a rise in reports of historic crimes (more than 12 months after the crime occurred). The clear up rate for sexual crimes is up by 1 percentage point to 76.5 per cent, the highest for eleven years
  • Crimes of handling an offensive weapon, including knives, are down by 13 per cent last year, a fall of 67 per cent since 2006-07 and the lowest level since 1985.
  • Dishonesty crimes, including housebreaking, shoplifting and other thefts, fell by eight per cent, following the downwards trend since 1991
  • The number of homicides (common law murder and culpable homicide ) remained the same as the previous year at 61, half the number recorded in 2006-07 however the number of deaths by dangerous or careless driving is up from 37 in 2013-14 to 39 in 2014-15
  • Crimes of fire-raising and vandalism decreased by four per cent

Commenting on the figures, Cabinet Secretary Justice Michael Matheson said:

"Recorded crime has fallen for the eighth year in a row and is now at its lowest level for 41 years, violent crime is down 6 per cent and crimes of handling an offensive weapon (including knives) have reduced by 67 per cent since 2006-07. These strong statistics are backed by over 1,000 extra police officers since 2007, protecting the public and keeping communities safe.

"The falling figures around violent crime are especially encouraging and are testament to increased policing and to the huge amount of groundbreaking work being done by the Violence Reduction Unit and the Scottish Government's No Knives, Better Lives programme amongst others to educate our young people about the dangers and consequences of becoming involved in any form of violence. Indeed, the number of young people under 19 convicted of handling an offensive weapon has fallen by 80% between 2006-07 and 2013-14. Alongside enforcement of legislation, our approach through education and awareness raising is having a huge impact on young people and will undoubtedly have a lasting effect for future generations.

"There has been another rise in sex crimes in the last year, reflecting the general upward trend of the past few years. Police Scotland have made clear that around 45 per cent of the increase is due to a rise in historic reporting and may also be down to more victims of current crimes coming forward. We want victims to have confidence to report these crimes which is why we strengthened the law by bringing in the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009. Later this year, our Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm Bill will also reform the law in relation to acts of harassment and sexual offending.

Police and prosecutors have improved the way they investigate and prosecute sexual crime with, for example, the single police service using better investigation techniques, setting up a new National Rape Taskforce which treats rape as seriously as murder, and the National Child Abuse Investigation Unit (NCAIU), a specialist unit to support the investigation of complex child abuse and neglect across Scotland.

Deputy Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick said:

"Police Scotland is absolutely focused on preventing and tackling crime where and when it occurs.

"Local policing remains at the heart of our service and the decreases in crimes of violence, including attempted murders and serious assaults, dishonesty and anti-social behaviour – issues which communities tell us are amongst their greatest concerns – are very welcome.

"Specialist investigation units have been established since the advent of Police Scotland to tackle domestic abuse, rape and child abuse, regardless of whether the crime happened today or many decades ago. These units operate across the length and breadth of the country in support of local policing.

"The reality is that fewer people are becoming victims of crime. The clear-up rate remains high which I believe provides communities with reassurance that where crime does take place, Police Scotland is committed to tracing offenders and reporting them for prosecution."

Karyn McCluskey director of the Violence Reduction Unit said:

"Reducing Violence is a complex challenge. The Violence Reduction Unit has always been clear that long term planning is crucial to making Scotland one of the safest countries in the world. The dedication of communities, teachers, early years, health, police and prison staff in Scotland has shown that we can change the outcomes for so many of our citizens and we should be proud of what they have achieved.

"Nevertheless, we cannot be complacent and there cannot be any diminution of our efforts - we must be better, we can be better, but it will take all of us. No one is safe until we are all safe. It's crucial we have informed conversations about the harm caused by alcohol, it is still the case that much of the violence we see in our communities is compounded by drink.

"The victims of violence should always be at the heart of our services. They need support and encouragement to come forward in the knowledge that they will receive the best of services. It is the very least we should do."

Notes to editors

A link to the publication can be found at http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2015/09/5338

Latest analysis of statistics show the number of young people under 19 convicted of handling an offensive weapon fell from 812 in 2006/07 down to 165 in 2013-14.