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One third drop in violent crime in Scotland driven by Glasgow

One third drop in violent crime in Scotland driven by Glasgow

Glasgow - Image credit: John Lindie/CC BY 2.0

A drop in serious violent crime in Scotland has been driven by Glasgow and the west of Scotland, new analysis by the Scottish Government has found.  

Serious assault and attempted murder cases fell by 35 per cent in the ten years between 2008-09 and 2017-18, with 89 per cent of the reduction in the west of Scotland, particularly around Glasgow.

There was also a significant drop in the number of young people in their teens and twenties involved in serious violent crime, with the average age of victims now 31 compared to 27 in 2008-09.

The analysis was based on a sample of more than 1,000 police cases from the decade between 2008-09 and 2017-18.

It found that while 80 per cent of serious assaults were against a male victim, the total number of these cases fell 41 per cent, but there was little change in the number of female victims.

A crime is categorised as a serious assault where a victim needs inpatient hospital treatment or sustains a significant injury such as a fracture, internal injury, severe concussion or permanent disfigurement.

Most male victims are assaulted by an acquaintance or a stranger, while female victims are more likely to be assaulted by a partner, ex-partner or relative.

Separate research also found a reduction in the proportion of younger offenders, as well as the overall fall in convictions.

The drop is backed up by Scottish Crime and Justice Survey, showed a 46 per cent fall in violent crime since 2008-09, and figures from the NHS, which show the number of emergency hospital admissions as a result of an assault has more than halved.

Significant work has been done over the past decade in reducing violent crime, including £20m of Scottish Government investment in violence prevention, including the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, Medics Against Violence, Mentors in Violence Prevention and No Knives Better Lives.

The maximum sentence for carrying a knife was increased in 2016 from four to five years.

Justice secretary Humza Yousaf said: “This research highlights the positive impact of our investment in early intervention in reducing violent crime and saving lives – particularly among young men in the west of Scotland, who historically have been at the highest risk of falling victim to violence.

“Our public health approach to reducing violence has garnered interest from London and elsewhere in the UK, as well as from the World Economic Forum.

“Despite this progress, we are working closely with police and others to tackle violence wherever it persists, and that includes keeping women and girls equally safe. 

“We have strengthened the law, giving police, prosecutors and the courts greater powers to tackle various forms of domestic abuse, while investing in preventative projects, including in schools and other education institutions, to promote positive relationships among young people.

“The research also highlights the continuing harm caused by alcohol. Having introduced a minimum unit price for alcohol last year the Scottish Government is continuing to develop innovative solutions to public health challenges.

“There is absolutely no room for complacency and we continue to invest in Police Scotland, the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit and other prevention initiatives. 

“At the same time, it is also clear that all of us in society – families, friends, educators and employers - have a role to play in eradicating violence in all its forms.”

Alcohol is still a major factor in violent crime, though.

Serious assaults are now less likely to involve a weapon – although they still account for more than half of cases – but almost two-thirds of serious assaults in 2017-18 involved alcohol.

Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said: "Alcohol doesn’t cause violence – and is never an excuse for it – but it can exacerbate it.

“From these figures we can see that alcohol is still very much a factor in crime in Scotland with almost two-thirds of serious assaults in 2017-18 having involved drink.

“Every act of violence can be life-changing for the people involved and more needs to be done to prevent the negative impact that alcohol has on individuals, families and communities.

“Alcohol Focus Scotland would like to see clear action to tackle the widespread availability of alcohol in our communities.

“We’re seeing more places licensed to sell alcohol – from corner shops to cinemas and coffee shops – and the easier it is to get hold of, the more we are likely to drink, and the more harm we will experience.”

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