Violence on the up - despite overall decline in crime

Crime figures fall in Scotland, but violence rates climb. Picture: SWNS/Hemedia

Crime figures fall in Scotland, but violence rates climb. Picture: SWNS/Hemedia

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Police are recording increasing numbers of violent offences despite an overall fall in crime levels.

Figures from Police Scotland show crimes of violence are up by more than five per cent over the past year.

Sexual offences increased by six per cent, though police said the rise was due to more victims coming forward.

Overall, recorded crime fell by 3.2 per cent with the number of murders at its lowest level since 1976. But serious assaults increased by 24 per cent and attempted murders are up 10 per cent.

Figures published yesterday by Police Scotland show that between 1 April 2015 and 31 March this year there were 246,243 recorded crimes.

While the detection rate is improving, officers solved just 51.6 per cent of offences.

Police are also struggling to quantify the increase in cybercrime, with many of the offences going unreported.

Appearing before the Scottish Police Authority yesterday, Chief Constable Phil Gormley said online scamming was now taking place on an “industrial scale” and there was a growing threat from those attempting to “monetise” child abuse images.

Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said: “The overall reduction in recorded crime is to be welcomed – it means fewer victims of crime in our communities.

“There were fewer than 50 murders last year across the whole of the country, with major investigation teams working closely with local policing officers to detect those crimes and manage the impact in communities. ”

Police recorded 49 murders – down from 55 in 2014-15 –with only one undetected.

But there were 293 attempted murders during the same period, up 10.2 per cent from 266 the previous year. The number of serious assaults rose 24 per cent to 3,716.

Offences of handling a bladed weapon increased by 3.3 per cent. Domestic abuse incidents decreased by 3.1 per cent to 57,687. There were 6.5 per cent fewer rapes, but the overall number of sexual assaults rose 4.5 per cent to 3,963.

Police said nearly 40 per cent of rape reports were “non-recent”, meaning they took place more than a year ago.

Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary Douglas Ross said: “Any drop in overall crime has to be welcomed, but the SNP shouldn’t get too excited about patting itself on the back. If you scratch beneath the surface of these figures, there are some extremely worrying trends. Crimes of violence and sex crimes are all up, while areas which the Government is meant to be targeting, like knife-possession and fraud, are also on the rise.”

Scottish Labour’s justice spokeswoman, Claire Baker, said: “It seems that a drop in overall crime is matched by increases in more complex and sensitive cases and support for our police force should reflect that.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “In addition to enforcement, our focus is on prevention and early intervention, on tackling the causes not just the symptoms and since 2006-07, we have provided significant investment in violence reduction programmes, including over £7 million since 2008 in the National Violence Reduction Unit.”

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