Scottish homicides at lowest level since 1976

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Man in a hoodie holding a knifeImage source, PA
Image caption,
Knives or other sharp instruments were used in 58% of the homicides

The number of homicides in Scotland has fallen to its joint lowest level since 1976, according to official figures.

The number of cases recorded by Police Scotland fell to 59 last year, down three on the previous 12 months.

Knives or other sharp instruments were used in 58% of the crimes. The report also revealed 76% (45) of the victims were male.

Over the 10-year period to 2017-18, the number of homicide cases in Scotland fell by 39% from 97 to 59.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said the human impact behind the statistics could not be underestimated.

He said: "While the number of homicides in Scotland has fallen this year and has reduced significantly over the last 10 years, one death is one too many.

"Behind these figures are grieving families and friends and my sincere sympathies go out to all those who have lost a loved one."

Mr Yousaf vowed that the Scottish government was committed to helping people "break free from cycles of violence".

He added: "We will continue our efforts to drive down violent crime in our communities, both through education and enforcement, supporting prevention work with people of all ages and ensuring our law enforcement agencies and courts have the resources to deal with those who harm others."

The government statistics showed that half of female victims last year were killed by a partner or ex-partner while half of male victims were killed by an acquaintance.

Of the 81 people accused in homicide cases in 2017/18, 37% were reported to have been under the influence of alcohol, drugs or both.

The majority of deaths occurred in homes.

Only one of the 59 cases remains unsolved, according to the figures.

The statistics are the joint lowest number of recorded homicide cases for a single 12-month period since 1976, the first year for which comparable data is available.

The death toll matches the figure for 2015/16.

'Devastating impact'

Assistant Chief Constable Gillian MacDonald said: "I welcome the fact that fewer people have lost their lives to murder in our communities again this year than in previous years and that homicide in Scotland is now at its lowest level in over 40 years.

"However, every violent death has a devastating impact on victims' families, friends and their communities and Police Scotland remains absolutely committed to tackling violent crime as a priority.

"We are committed to working closely with partners, including those in education, health and social work to tackle the root causes of violence and address the role that alcohol, drugs and weapons play in violent crime."

Niven Rennie, director of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, said: "Scotland has come a long way from the days when it was branded the most violent country in the developed world.

"However, tragically too many lives are still being needlessly lost.

"We must relentlessly focus on the causes of violence from Scotland's toxic relationship with alcohol, to social and gender inequalities."

Mr Rennie said teachers, social workers and medics are among those who have worked with police to tackle the problem.

He added: "The evidence shows the earlier we start the better the outcomes, so its crucial we ensure every child grows up in a country where they are safe and supported.

"Working together we can break the cycle of violence and make Scotland the safest country in the world."

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