Murder rate at 30 year low

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Scotland’s homicide rate has fallen to its lowest level in 31 years, with knife murders alone dropping 39 per cent in the past 12 months, according to official statistics published today.

Figures from Scotland’s Chief Statistician show Scottish police recorded 78 homicide cases involving 79 victims during 2009-10 – a drop of 20 per cent since last year, and the lowest number since 1979.

The figures show knife killings fell from 57 to 35 during the past year, but blades are still involved in almost half of all homicides in Scotland.

In addition, nearly 50 per cent of all those accused of homicide are under the influence of drink or drugs at the time of the incident, highlighting once again the link between alcohol and violent crime.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said:

“We already know that Scotland is getting safer, with recorded crime at a 32 year low and an additional 1,000 police officers on our streets since 2007. These figures reflect that trend, but the fact Scotland’s homicide rate is at its lowest for more than a generation does not give us any room for complacency.

“While this significant drop means fewer families are having to come to terms with the consequences of such a terrible crime, we still have to work hard to reduce further the number of killings by tackling the booze and blades culture that still blights parts of Scotland.

“The significant drop we have seen in the number of homicides that involve a knife is very welcome, but our strenuous efforts to rid Scotland of knife crime will continue, be it through the courts as we crack down hard on those that carry weapons, or by education as we work with youngsters through campaigns such as No Knives, Better Lives.

“These figures also demonstrate the terrible cost of Scotland’s damaging relationship with alcohol, with nearly half of all those accused of homicide found to be under the influence of drink or drugs at the time of the incident.

“The links between alcohol and violent crime are already well known, and that is why we have already taken tough action, through the Alcohol Bill, to address Scotland’s drinking culture by ending irresponsible drinks promotions and tightening up the rules surrounding the sale of alcohol in off-licenses.

“These measures, coupled with our ongoing efforts to educate people about the dangers of drink will press the message that the costs of alcohol to Scotland’s communities remain unacceptable, and alcohol related violence will not be tolerated by this government.”