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Gun crime at lowest level since records began

The level of firearms offences in Scotland has reached its lowest recorded level since 1980, when records began, according to recent figures released by Scotland’s Chief Statistician.

32% drop in offences

The news was revealed in the publication “Recorded Crimes and Offences Involving Firearms, Scotland, 2012-13,” which gives details of the number of crimes and offences recorded by the legacy Scottish police forces in which a firearm was alleged to have been used or where a firearm was stolen.

According to the figures, there has been a 32% drop in offences across Scotland, from 535 in 2011/12 to 365 in 2012/13.

Air weapons still a cause for concern

There was also a drop in the number of air weapons offences, although this type of crime still accounts for almost half (47%) of all incidents – proportionately 10% more than they accounted for last year.

Interestingly, if offences involving air weapons and unidentified weapons are removed from the figures, the overall drop in the number of offences involving firearms increases to 41% (from 285 in 2011-12 to 168 in 2012-13).

Other key statistics

Other points of interest that were revealed in the Chief Statistician’s figures include:

  • There was a 31% fall in the number of offences in which a firearm was discharged and which subsequently fatally or non-fatally injured a person, with recorded offences falling from 95 in 2011-12 to 66 in 2012-13.
  • There was a drop between last year and this in the number of offences involving each of the different categories of firearms, with the exception of offences involving a rifle. These increased to 16 offences in 2012-13 compared to six offences in the previous year.
  • The number of homicides involving a firearm fell to just one in 2012-13, compared to four recorded in 2011-12. There was also a significant fall in the number of attempted murders involving a firearm, from 11 in 2011-12 to two in 2012-13.
  • There was a drop of one in the number of serious assaults involving a firearm between 2011-12 and 2012-13, with the total number of offences falling from seven to six. There were apparently a further 71 common assaults involving a firearm in 2012-13, a fall of 28% from the 99 that were recorded in 2011-12.
  • The number of recorded robberies involving the use of a firearm decreased by 52%, from 82 in 2011-12 to 39 in 2012-13.

Government welcomes the figures

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill welcomed the figures, but expressed concern over the continued dominance of air weapons offences in the recorded figures.

“That is why this Government is committed to introducing a robust system of air weapon licensing as part of our forthcoming Licensing Bill, which is included in the current Programme for Government and will be lodged by the end of the Parliamentary year. This will better protect our communities by taking these potentially lethal weapons out of the hands of those who would misuse them,” he said.

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