Justice Secretary pledges to ‘root out’ persistent violence

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf has pledged to tackle “persistent violence” after it was revealed more than half of all violent crime in Scotland is suffered by repeat victims.

Secretary for Justice Humza Yousaf Cabinet said they are determined to root out persistent violence where it exists. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Secretary for Justice Humza Yousaf Cabinet said they are determined to root out persistent violence where it exists. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Repeat victims experienced an average of three violent crimes, the 2018-19 Scottish Crime and Justice Survey found, accounting for 59 per centof all the violent offences during that period.

Across Scotland, fewer than one in every 100 adults was a victim of more than one violent crime, while one in 1,000 experienced five or more incidents, according to the Scottish Government’s study.

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Violent crime has fallen over the last decade, with 2.3 per centof adults being subjected to it in the latest year, down from 4.1 per centin 2008-09.

Overall crime also down by 16 per centsince 2017-18, according to the findings.

Researchers questioned approximately 5,500 people across the country about their experience of crime in an attempt to find out more about unreported incidents.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “We saw last week with the publication of our Crime and Justice Survey that violent crime has reduced by nearly half in the last decade but we are not complacent and will continue to work to reduce this further.

“We are determined to root out persistent violence where it exists and I welcome this report which will help us - working with police, local authorities and others - to determine how best to further reduce violence, with fewer victims and still safer communities.

“We have invested more than £17 million in violence prevention since 2006-07, including funding the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, Medics Against Violence and our No Knives Better Lives programme, as well as the Mentors in Violence Prevention programme delivery in schools.”

Commenting on the release of the Scottish Government’s Repeat Violent Victimisation: Evidence Review, director of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit (SVRU) Niven Rennie said: “This work emphasises how important it is to provide support at that crucial moment when someone has become a victim of violence.

“Our navigators are working in emergency departments in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Ayrshire, helping those who have been subjected to violence in all its forms, from domestic abuse to gang violence and self-directed violence.

“As the review shows, that first week after an incident can be crucial to keeping people safe and preventing them suffering any further harm.

“The SVRU aims to break the cycle of violence and support people in need to create a safer and healthier future.

“With the support of the Scottish Government and our partners Medics Against Violence, we are currently looking to extend the programme further across the country to where it’s needed most.”

The survey, published last week, also revealed one in nine Scots have been the victim of stalking or harassment in the last year - with almost a fifth of young people affected.

A total of 11.1 per centadults said they had suffered at least one form of this, while for those aged 16 to 24 the total rose to 19%.

The most common form of harassment was receiving unwanted messages by text, email or social media, with more than two-thirds (67%) experiencing this.

Some 4 per centof those who had experienced some form of stalking or harassment said intimate pictures had been shared without their permission, 10 per centsaid they had been followed and 11 per centhad spotted someone loitering outside their home.

While around half of all victims knew the perpetrator in some way, in two-fifths of cases (41%) the offender was someone they had never seen before.