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Experts Puzzled by Continuing Fall in Crime

Following the publication of crime stats in Scotland, experts have tried to pinpoint the factors that led to the sharp reduction in the number of criminal offences.

While officials state that no clear factor has led to the decrease in the number of offences, the trend in Scotland has been mirrored across many other parts of the world with a number of countries in Europe, the rest of the UK and the USA having a reduction of crime levels in the last decade.

Scottish Crime Levels

There were 688,000 recorded crimes against adults in Scotland in 2014-15, a decrease of 16% since 2012-13 and more than 30% since 2008-9. While overall crime was down in Scotland, there was a significant decrease in the number of violent and property crimes in the last ten years according to the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey.

Despite the drop in crime and the figures reflecting a decline in assaults and property crimes, some reports state that around of half of all crimes in Scotland were not reported with many people feeling that the police could not help them. However, 74% of adults felt safe walking home at night, up 66% from 2008.  

While the trend in Scotland is being echoed elsewhere, experts remain unsure of exactly what has contributed to the decline in the number of offences, with a number of factors potentially leading to a decline in overall crime.

Changes in social aspects of society, better policing, aging society and affordable high-end goods have all been cited as potential reasons for the decrease in the number of crimes in Scotland and across the Western world. Some countries have also seen a significant increase in prison population with Scotland having a larger number of prisoners than in the previous decade.

John Carnochan, a former detective chief superintendent with Strathclyde Police and a co-founder of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit said: “There is no single factor behind the fall in crime, it is a more an accumulation of things

“Better policing is only a small part of it, as it should be remembered that not all crime is reported.

“In terms of youth crime, I think we are seeing the benefit of schools having more thoughtful exclusion policies.

“Children spend more time on their smartphones and computers, but that could mean they are more likely to be victims of online crimes rather than in the street.

“Crime is changing. Years ago, cars were regularly stolen and so were car radios. Thanks to engineering advancements, that’s no longer the case.

“It’s not worth breaking into a house to steal a DVD player if you can buy one for £25.”

Despite the positives, Justice secretary Michael Matheson believed that more work had to be done to reduce crime further as well as reassure those living in Scotland that crime was being tackled. In a statement he said: “The public still think they are at least two to three times more at risk of experiencing a crime than is actually likely.

“The country is becoming a safer place thanks to the continued efforts of our communities and law enforcement agencies and I am glad this message seems to be getting through to the public, with those surveyed claiming to feel safer in their neighbourhoods than in previous years.”

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