Scotland recorded a bigger fall in homicides than anywhere else in a group of leading Western nations over much of the past decade, figures show.
An international comparison carried out by the Home Office shows the number of murders and culpable homicides fell by 37 per cent between 2008 and 2014, compared with a 22 per cent fall in the equivalent offences in England and Wales, and a 14 per cent decline in the United States.
While there was a 3 per cent rise between 2014 and 2016, the comparable figure for England and Wales was 16 per cent, with the US recording a 22 per cent rise.
The fall recorded by in Scotland between 2008-14 was the largest of 13 major nations, although Italy, Spain and the Netherlands posted larger falls across the entire period (2008-16).
The figures emerged as Home Secretary Amber Rudd unveiled plans to combat a growing wave of violent crime following a number of high-profile murders in London.
There are calls for the Metropolitan Police to adopt a similar approach to one pioneered by Scotland’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) which is credited with reducing knife crime in Glasgow from 2005 onwards.
According to the Home Office analysis, the trend across most major nations was for a falling number of homicides (murders and manslaughters) prior to 2014.
The report said it was too early to tell whether the recent increases would be of long-term significance.
Ms Rudd was heavily criticised yesterday when it emerged the 114-page report made no reference to police numbers.
The study includes detailed sections on a range of possible factors behind an increase in violent crime in England and Wales, including the emergence of social media and changes in the drugs market.
But hours before the strategy was published, it was reported that internal Home Office research suggested that falls in police numbers had “likely contributed” to the rise.
Ms Rudd denied seeing the leaked paper that apparently suggested offenders may have been “encouraged” after resources came under pressure and charge rates fell.
Arguing it was a “complex area” which is “not all about police numbers”, the Cabinet minister told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “You cannot arrest your way out of this.” The Home Secretary said police forces with the largest falls in numbers had not seen the sharpest rises in crime.
Following a speech to unveil the strategy in central London, Ms Rudd said the Government recognised officers had come under additional pressure following a rise in reporting of crime.
Ms Rudd said she had addressed this by ensuring forces “have the resources when they need them”.
She added: “There are elements where police forces can do more to help themselves – there’s efficiencies they can put in place, there is new equipment they can put in place.”
Figures published last year by the Scottish Government showed Glasgow accounted for a third of the overall decrease in the number of homicides north of the border.
Last week shadow home secretary Diane Abbott called on the Metropolitan Police to replicate Glasgow’s approach to knife crime by treating it as a public health issue.
Speaking yesterday, she said: “The Tories’ concern about knife crime doesn’t even run so far as providing new money or extra officers to tackle it.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Scotland’s firm focus on prevention, responsive policing and local partnerships to help individuals and communities keep themselves safe has had a positive impact on long-term crime trends. The overall context in Scotland is one of huge reductions in non-sexual violent crime – down 49 per cent between 2006-07 and 2016-17 to one of the lowest levels since 1974 (SG National Statistics).
“As well as continued government investment in policing and funding partners such as Neighbourhood Watch Scotland, Crimestoppers and the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, we have commissioned further research into those areas where violence persists. We must keep identifying those areas where we can most effectively focus our collective efforts to achieve the greatest impact, ensuring all our communities benefit from falling crime.”