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by Andrew Learmonth
26 October 2021
More than two-thirds of Scotland's murders are drug-related

More than two-thirds of Scotland's murders are drug-related

More than two-thirds of murders in Scotland last year were drug-related, according to the latest report from the chief statistician. 

Forty-one people killed in 2020-21 were reported to have been murdered in drug-related homicides, an increase of 10 on the 31 reported in 2019-20.

Despite this, last year saw Scotland record the lowest number of murders and culpable homicides since comparable records began in 1976.

There were 55 homicide cases with a total 58 victims in Scotland between 2020-21, down ten cases and eleven victims on the year before.

It’s a substantial decrease on a decade ago when 91 homicides were recorded by police. 

It also marks the sharpest fall since 2012-13. Homicide cases have been relatively stable in the intervening years, even increasing slightly in 2017 and 2019.

Of the 58 victims in 2020-21, 48 were male and ten were female. In total, of the 65 persons accused of homicide, 60 were male. 

Of those accused, 17 were under the influence of alcohol, another 17 were under the influence of alcohol and drugs while six were under the influence of drugs alone.

The most common method of killing last year, as it has been for the last decade, was with a sharp instrument. Another 17 per cent died after being kicked and hit, and five per cent were killed in a shooting. 

More than two-thirds of murders were in a residential location, another 31 per cent were in a public location, while one case, that of Dean Ramsay earlier this year, happened in prison. 

The victim and main accused were known to each other in 91 per cent of homicide cases solved in 2020-21. Of those cases where the victim and accused were known to each other, 72 per cent were acquaintances, nine per cent were partners or ex-partners and 19 per cent were relatives.

Half of the 10 female victims were killed by an acquaintance, with a further three killed by a partner or ex-partner. This means that over the last decade, 51 per cent of female victims aged between 16 and 70 years old were killed by their partner or ex-partner, while 27 per cent were killed by an acquaintance, 11 per cent were killed by a relative and 7 per cent were killed by a stranger.

In the 10 year period between 2011-12 and 2020-21, around half of all accused were reported to have been under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs at the time of the homicide. 

The figures also reveal that over the last decade, 21 per cent of homicides where the accused was suspected of being under the influence of alcohol or alcohol and drugs occurred on a Saturday. While 52 per cent of homicides where the accused was under the influence of alcohol or alcohol and drugs occurred during the weekend.

Between 2011-12 and 2020-21, a total of 32 children under the age of 16 years were victims of homicide. Of these, 63 per cent were killed by one of their parents. Since 2011-12 there have been 11 victims aged under one year old and in all but three cases the main accused was a parent.

In terms of the most recent year (2020-21), rage or fury and fight or quarrel accounted for 26 per cent of all victims in solved cases. For 10 per cent of victims in solved cases the motive was a feud or faction rivalry, and in 47 per cent of solved cases the motive was unknown.

With eight murders in the city boundaries, Glasgow had the highest number of homicide cases last year, followed by North Lanarkshire with seven. In both areas the share of national homicides was higher than their share of Scotland’s population in 2020.

However, the report points out that Glasgow, which hosts the COP26 climate summit, has also witnessed a relatively larger fall in homicides over the last decade, with murders down 50 per cent accounting for 22 per cent of the overall national decrease.

Read the most recent article written by Andrew Learmonth - Slate wiped clean: SNP's 87th annual conference could be its most collegiate in years

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