Firearm offences in Scotland 'lowest for 39 years'

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Person with gunImage source, Getty Images

The number of offences in Scotland involving a firearm have fallen to a record low.

Official figures show that there were 348 offences in 2017-18 - the lowest since current records began in 1980.

This was a fall of 1% (two offences) from the previous year.

Offences in which a firearm caused fatal or non-fatal injuries fell by two to 41 in 2017-18. Air weapons were used in 36% of all incidents, followed by pistol/revolver (11%) and shotgun (7%).

The most commonly committed offences involving a firearm in 2017-18 were possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life or commit crime (18%), breach of the peace (17%) and common assault (14%).

The number of offences in which a firearm was discharged and caused fatal or non-fatal injury decreased by two (5%) from 43 in 2016-17 to 41 in 2017-18.

Gun statistics

  • 36% of firearms were used in a house or flat
  • 20% of offences happened in the street
  • 8% of offences happened in a shop
  • 93% of perpetrators were male
  • 7% were female
  • The average age of people using firearms is 28

Over the last three years, the number of offences involving an air weapon fell by one-third (from 190 to 127 offences).

Between 2016-17 and 2017-18 the number of offences involving shotguns, imitation firearms, unidentified firearms and air weapons increased, while the number of offences involving rifles, pistols/revolvers and other firearms decreased.

In 2017-18, most offences involving firearms either took place in a dwelling (36%) or other locations (32%). Other locations include inside a motor vehicle, licensed premises, and other outside locations.

Six offences took place in a school or college involving the alleged use of a firearm. This represents a 45% decrease from the previous year, when 11 offences were recorded in 2016-17.

In total, seven offences involving the alleged use of a firearm happened in a bank, building society or post office in 2017-18, with a further four in places of public entertainment in 2017-18.

An air weapon was the only type of weapon used in offences that happened in a school/college, bank, building society or place of public entertainment in 2017-18.

In 2017-18, 69% of all offences involving a firearm were cleared up, with homicides and serious assaults at a rate of 100% and common assaults at 86%.

Type of weapons used

Image source, Getty Images
  • Air weapons - 55%
  • Pistol/revolver - 17%
  • Imitation - 13%
  • Shotgun - 11%
  • Rifle - 4%

In 2017-18, the local authority areas of Glasgow City (64), South Lanarkshire (35) and North Lanarkshire (28) had the highest number of offences involving firearms.

When cases involving air weapons are excluded - the highest number of offences were recorded in Glasgow City (20), Aberdeen City (18), South Lanarkshire (15), and Aberdeenshire (15).

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: "These figures show we are continuing to make progress in tackling firearms misuse with offences now at their lowest level for any single year since 1980.

"While firearms offences are rare, we know that just one such incident can have a devastating impact on victims and the wider community, so we are determined to continue working with our partners to reduce these numbers.

"Having successfully lobbied to have the relevant powers devolved to the Scottish Parliament, we are the only part of Great Britain to licence air weapons - ensuring that only those with a legitimate need have lawful access to them.

"Since our licensing legislation was passed in 2015-16 offences involving an air weapon have fallen by a third. This is testament to the hard work of Police Scotland, and partners, in introducing the new licensing regime."