by a Newsnet reporter
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill today welcomed official statistics which show that recorded crime fell again last year to its lowest level since 1976, on the same day that separate figures confirm police officer numbers remain well above the government’s target to maintain the 1,000 additional officers in Scotland’s communities.
The 323,000 crimes recorded in 2010-11 represents a four per cent reduction on the previous year and the lowest level in 35 years. Mr MacAskill is in no doubt that the figures vindicate the SNP government’s policy of boosting police numbers.
Overall clear up rates are in line with the last two years’ recent high level of 49 per cent, whilst the figures show a significant rise in the clear up rate for violent crime from 67 to 72 per cent – to a 35 year high.
Today’s figures also show that crimes involving handling of offensive weapons are down 11 per cent on last year.
Also today, the latest Police Quarterly Strength figures were published, showing that as at June 30, 2011, there were 17,339 police officers (full-time equivalent) in Scotland – 1,105 more than there were in March 2007.
Mr MacAskill said:
“These figures are further good news for Scotland, the fourth year in a row where recorded crime has fallen – to a 35-year low – and with police numbers remaining well above our pledge to put 1,000 extra officers on our streets.
“The statistics we have seen this year show Scotland is becoming safer – crime is down, fear of crime is down, the number of people carrying out crime is down, and those who do break the law are being punished swiftly by Scotland’s justice system.
“However, we are pledged to do everything we can to keep bringing these numbers down, because crime remains too high.
“Police the length and breadth of Scotland are to be congratulated on their work to prevent and detect crime and catch criminals and I am particularly pleased to see the clear up rate for violent crime is now at its highest level in 35 years.
“It is no coincidence that recorded crime continues to fall at a time when police officer numbers are strong and we will build on this as we move forward with our police reform plans to protect local policing and improve access to the very best specialist expertise whenever and wherever it is needed.
“I particularly welcome the 11 per cent reduction in crimes involving offensive weapons, an area where we’ve seen crimes fall by more than a third since 2006-7. We have invested heavily in this area, specifically in our efforts to reduce knife crime, and recently announced the roll out of our highly successful No Knives, Better Lives education campaign across the country.
“Although comparisons over time cannot be relied upon, as the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 which came into force in December last year widens the definition of rape, I was concerned to see a rise in the figures for rape and attempted rape. Rape is a horrific crime and I want to ensure that those that commit it are caught and victims are granted justice.
“Last year’s legislation gives greater clarity to the prosecution of sexual crimes, but we acknowledge that more needs to be done to improve the conviction rate. Lord Carloway is currently carrying out a review of Scots criminal law, and he will examine the principle of corroboration, which affects many rape cases brought before the courts.
“Following widespread campaigns and specific action around the dangers of drink driving, it is very welcome news to see a drop of 11 per cent in drunk driving offences, and a similar decrease in the figures for dangerous and careless driving.”
There has been an overall drop of 6 per cent from last year in the number of offences recorded.
Recorded Crime in Scotland, 2010-11 statistics are available at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/stats/bulletins/00917
Police Officer Quarterly Strength Statistics Scotland are available at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/stats/bulletins/00921
Further information on crime and justice statistics in Scotland is available at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Crime-Justice