‘Shocking rise’ in murders, sex attacks and serious assaults

There were 64 murders compared with 49 the previous year, while the number of serious assaults rose nearly four per cent to 3,952. Photograph: John Devlin

There were 64 murders compared with 49 the previous year, while the number of serious assaults rose nearly four per cent to 3,952. Photograph: John Devlin

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Violent crimes including murder, serious assault and robbery are on the rise, according to statistics released by Police Scotland.

There were 7,164 non-sexual crimes of violence in the year to 1 April – an increase of more than five per cent on the previous year.

The rate of violent offences per 10,000 of the population also increased, from 12.7 to 13.3, while the detection rate fell from 81.7 per cent to 77.1 per cent.

There were 64 murders compared with 49 the previous year, while the number of serious assaults rose nearly four per cent to 3,952.

Police also recorded a total of 3,271 crimes involving bladed or offensive weapons, up more than five per cent on the previous year.

The figures were described as “shocking”, but Police Scotland said the long-term trend had seen violent offences falling.

The force said common assaults – which are categorised among miscellaneous offences –accounted for most of the violent crime recorded in Scotland.

There were 57,861 common assaults in 2016/17, down from 58,442 the previous year.

The statistics also showed an almost 10 per cent rise in the number of sexual assaults, with a total of 6,996 recorded.

A Scottish Labour spokesman said: “These figures are shocking, but sadly come as little surprise. The SNP’s management of Police Scotland has been a disgrace. The force is facing a £190 million black hole. Officers have been taken off the beat to fill civilian roles.

“And the ludicrous sideshow of the Scottish Police Authority, which is rapidly losing credibility, will only make matters worse.

“The SNP need to stop focusing on a divisive second independence referendum and start fixing the mess it has made of our police force.”

The Scottish Government has consistently used its own recorded crime statistics – which show crime at its lowest levels since the 1970s – as evidence that policing is working well in Scotland.

However, both the Scottish Police Federation and the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents have warned too much emphasis can be put on the statistics, with the SPF calling them “dangerously misleading”.

Chief Superintendent Barry McEwan said overall violent crime was down more than 4.8 per cent on the five-year average.

He said: “The vast majority of violent crime comprises of common assaults. In addition, nearly one quarter of all violent crimes are linked to domestic incidents. We know this is an area of under-reporting and we have been encouraging people to come forward about domestic assaults.”

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said the total fall in recorded crime follows on from the 42 year low in recorded crime levels reported in the National Statistics for 2015-16.

She added that where “certain types” of recorded crime have gone up, local commanders will use the statistics to “plan local activity to help keep communities safe”.

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