Police told Scots want violent crime made a priority

Police Scotland are being urged to "listen" to the results of a poll which found more than half of Scots want knife and violent crime to be a top priority for officers.

Some 52 per cent of people north of the border said "knife crime and violent crime" was one of the most important issues they think police should prioritise, according to Survation research for 1919 Magazine.

It was followed by child abuse inquiries and investigating sexual offences, both on 39 per cent, while 24 per cent said antisocial behaviour and 23 per cent listed "drug and crime enforcement".

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David Hamilton, chairman of the Scottish Police Federation, urged Police Scotland to "listen" to the results, and said it was time it started asking for more officers.

A thief with a knife goes to attack and rob another person in a tunnel. Picture: Getty Images

"Police Scotland can't keep telling the public the kind of policing they need," he told 1919 Magazine.

"Legitimacy is derived from serving the public, not directing it, so they must listen to this survey.

"The challenge is that this type of response requires police officers on the ground and the constant erosion of frontline police visibility as we absorb new responsibilities and demand makes this impossible.

"The force needs more officers and it's high time they started asking for them."

Assistant Chief Constable Steve Johnson said that "it remains a fact that most of us will not directly experience crime from one year to the next and that is a reality we work hard to preserve".

"Across most types of violent crime, a significant number of victims are repeat victims and Police Scotland is focused and dedicated to supporting them, with our partners, and bringing perpetrators to justice," he told the justice and social affairs publication.

"We remain fully committed to keeping our communities safe and one way of doing so is by removing illicit and harmful items, particularly knives, from a small number of people intent on causing harm."

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The findings, which come after Survation polled 1,008 adults aged 16 and over in Scotland, have also seen calls for the Government in Holyrood to "ramp up its efforts" to tackle violent crimes.

Scottish Lib Dem deputy leader and former police officer Wendy Chamberlain said: "It is clear that the Scottish Government must ramp up its efforts to tackle violent crimes as soon as possible."

Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary Jamie Greene said: "Violent crime is surging on the SNP's watch, so it is of little surprise that so many people want it to be treated as a top priority."

And Scottish Labour's justice spokeswoman Pauline McNeill said: "The statistics are clear - our police service needs all the support it can get to tackle violent crime of all kinds."

But a Scottish Government spokesperson said recorded crime was at "one of the lowest levels since 1974 and is down 41 per cent since 2006/07 and homicide levels are at their lowest level since 1976''.

"Over the long term, we have seen a significant reduction of police recorded non-sexual violent crime of 36 per cent between 2006/07 and 2020/21," the spokesman said.

"Despite UK Government austerity we have increased police funding year-on-year since 2016/17, and have invested more than £10 billion in policing since the creation of Police Scotland in 2013.

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"We have invested more than £23 million since 2008 in violence reduction programmes across Scotland, including over £16 million to support the work of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit and more than £4 million to No Knives, Better Lives."

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