Violent crime in Scotland rises to highest level in seven years

Scottish police car

Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Steven Straiton

Silas Pease

There has been a rise in violent crime in Scotland over the past seven years, according to a recent study.

A National Statistics study published by the Scottish Government reports that crime in Scotland has risen to its highest level since 2011-2012. 

Assault, robbery and murder have seen a 10% increase since last year. Violent crimes of a sexual nature have risen by eight percent; the highest rate seen since 1971 when records for this sub-category of violent crime began.

Many sub-groups of violent crime have also increased in recent years. Serious assault and attempted murder – the largest component of non-sexual violent crimes – have seen a four percent increase from the previous year. 

Sexual crimes account for five percent of all crimes recorded in Scotland between 2018-2019. With its eight percent increase, the number of reports stand at 13,547. It is the highest figure ever on record in this category of violent crime.

The report also shows that not every area of Scotland has seen an increase in violent crime. Racially-motivated violent crimes have seen a decline carried throughout the past decade. Cases of vandalism and fire raising – while still accounting for 19% of all reported crimes in 2018-2019 – have also seen a six percent drop, now standing at the lowest rate they have been since 1976.

Different areas of Scotland have seen their own changes in violent crime rates. Glasgow and West Scotland have seen a greater drop compared to the rest of the country.

The Scottish Government believes crime reduction campaigns have helped to lower both the level of criminal activity by younger people and the level of weapon-related crime.

Scotland’s violent crime rate is also considerably lower when compared to previous decades. Between 2008-2009 and 2017-2018, reported cases of violent crime dropped by 35%, and the overall violent crime rate from 2018-2019 is more than half of what it was in the early 1990s. 

The report also states that violent crime is at one of its lowest levels since 1974.

Attempts are still being made to lower violent crime rates. In an interview with BBC Scotland, Will Linden, deputy director of Scotland’s Violence Reduction Unit, said the biggest factors contributing to violent behaviour were alcohol, poverty and social deprivation.

The report found that in 63% of serious assault, the consumption of alcohol was involved. It also stated that the figure may not be completely accurate as there may not be enough information at the time of making a report to determine whether alcohol was involved.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf believe these factors must be targeted in order to reduce crime rates. Yousaf said Police Scotland will be launching programmes to support victims of violent crimes, including an extensive 16-month research project to engage with victims of violent crime.

Students at the University of Glasgow can visit the MyGlasgow Students “Health, Safety and Wellbeing” page online to learn about preventative steps to avoid falling victim to crime. There are also various counselling and support services through the university and in Glasgow for those who have experienced violent crimes.



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