Scotland

Scottish homicide figures fall to another record low

Forensic officers and police tape

The number of murders in Scotland has fallen again to another record low.

In the year to the end of March 2015, there were 59 killings reported to police - one fewer than in the previous 12 months.

The figures are published in the annual Homicide in Scotland report compiled by Scotland's chief statistician.

They showed the majority of homicides were carried out in private houses, and that in most cases the killer was known to the victim.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: "Scotland's law enforcement agencies are working hard to bring those responsible to justice and we are making strides in preventing and reducing all forms of violent crime, including attempted murder and serious assault.

"There will be no let-up in efforts."

'Fewer victims'

The number of killings reported last year is the lowest since comparable data became available in 1976.

There were 77 people accused of homicide - a 13% decrease from the 89 accused in 2013-14.

Males accounted for 91% of those accused of homicide and 76% of victims.

Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham, from Police Scotland, said: "Homicide rates are now at their lowest levels since recording began; this means fewer victims, fewer families who have suffered the loss of a loved one through violence and fewer communities affected by the aftershocks of a murder.

"Since the advent of Police Scotland, every murder committed has been detected. We have developed a very high standard of investigating major crimes, including homicide."

The figures showed that in 56% of homicide cases, a sharp instrument (knife, broken bottle, sword, screwdriver or other pointed weapon) was used.

More than a third of those accused of homicide were under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs at the time.

'Root of violence'

The report suggested that when men are the victims of homicide, they continue to be most likely to be killed by a friend or other acquaintance. Women, in comparison, continue to be most likely killed by a partner or ex-partner.

Glasgow recorded the most homicides of any local authority area last year with a total of 14 reported. That was down 56% since 2005-06.

Over the last 10 years, Glasgow City has accounted for half of the total fall in homicides across Scotland.

Karyn McCluskey, director of Scotland's Violence Reduction Unit, said: "Ten years ago the Violence Reduction Unit was formed to tackle Glasgow's addiction to violence. A decade on, Glasgow and Scotland are changing.

"We are a safer country thanks to communities pulling together. But we cannot be complacent.

"Alcohol is too often at the root of violence. Scotland needs to have an honest conversation about the harm alcohol can and does cause."

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