Scottish gun crime rates decreasing despite 2014 jump

Despite an increase in the number of incidents involving firearms in Scotland, gun crime rates resulting in injury or death are still relatively rare.

Despite an increase in the number of incidents involving firearms in Scotland, gun crime rates resulting in injury or death are still relatively rare.

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Figures from the Scottish Government show a 2 per cent increase in gun-related offences in 2013-14 compared to 2012-13, but fewer occasions where a firearm was discharged.

According to figures collated by Police Scotland earlier this year, those living in Scotland are less likely to be shot by an imitation or real firearm now than at any point in the last nine years.

Data collected by Police Scotland shows the decline in gun-related crime from a peak of over 900 incidents in 2006-07 to just under 300 last year. Photo: Justice Analytical Services/Police Scotland

Data collected by Police Scotland shows the decline in gun-related crime from a peak of over 900 incidents in 2006-07 to just under 300 last year. Photo: Justice Analytical Services/Police Scotland

During 2013-14, Scottish police forces recorded 374 offences involving a firearm, up from 365 offences the year before. Despite this increase, the total number of incidents involving the discharge of a firearm causing a fatal or non-fatal injury showed a decrease of 35 per cent in this period, from 66 in 2012-13 to 43 in 2013-14.

When compared to the vastly high number of approximately 920 incidents recorded in 2006-07, the figures illustrate a tighter police crackdown on firearm crime, as well as the increasing prevalance of firearms being used to threaten individuals without intent to kill.

Across the country, Police Scotland managed to successfully solve 68 per cent of all offences where a firearm was said to be involved in 2013-14, up by 2 per cent compared to figures from the previous year. In fact, the use of firearms in criminal activity in 2013-14 constituted only 1.6 per cent of homicides, with a sole offence recorded by Police Scotland.

Similarly low levels of firearm involvement have been seen in the number of attempted murders with firearms (0.3 per cent, one offence) and robberies (2.5 per cent, 38 offences). Less than half a per cent of vandalism offences, serious and common assaults involved the alleged use of a firearm, according to the data collated in 2013-14.

In addition, air weapons continue to be the most likely firearm used in all offences, with the 49 per cent of the 2013-14 figures involving them representing an increase of two per cent on the year before.

Great strides have been made in the work to limit access to firearms to those under the age of 15 too, with a mere 19 of the 254 cleared-up offences involving a main accused of 15 years old or younger. This is the lowest proportion for this age group since the figures of 2004-05.

The 2013-14 figures show that men are still disproportionally likely to be the victims of firearm-related crime, with 72 per cent of the 43 main victims of this type of crime being male. During the year, there were no reported offences of fatal or non-fatal firearm action against a police officer.

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