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Recorded crime rate lowest for 39 years

Recorded crime in Scotland is at its lowest level since 1974, according to the latest crime statistics from the Scottish Government. The figures follow on from earlier statistics on hate crime and knife crime – both of which have also seen a drop.

Crime statistics

The newest publication, ‘Recorded Crime in Scotland, 2012-13’, reveals that, for the year to the end of March 2013, the number of recorded crimes fell to 273,053, a drop of around 13%.

Looking at the figures in more detail, the report highlights that in 2012-13:

  • The number of non-sexual crimes of violence recorded by the police decreased by 21%;
  • The number of sexual offences increased by 5%;
  • The number of crimes of dishonesty decreased by 12%;
  • Recorded crimes of fire-raising, vandalism etc. decreased by 21%;
  • Other recorded crimes (including drug crimes and crimes against public justice) decreased by 8%; and
  • The number of offences (less serious crimes, including motoring offences) rose by around 1%.

Increase in sexual offences

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill welcomed the overall figures as “encouraging” but expressed concern at the increase in the number of sexual offences.

“This may be down to increased reporting but the public should be assured that the Scottish Government, police and prosecutors take the investigation and prosecution of these traumatic crimes extremely seriously and are taking action to address them,” he said.

Recent Government initiatives to deal with sexual crimes include the introduction of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009, which came into force on 1st December 2010. This Act updated previous law in Scotland surrounding rape and other sexual offences, and focused in particular on the gender specific nature of the common law offence of rape.

Other Government initiatives include the grant of £3.6 million funding to support victims of rape from 2012-15, and a new National Rape Taskforce, launched recently by Police Scotland.

Hate crime

Statistics have also recently been released regarding the rates of racist and religiously aggravated offending in Scotland. These include the first annual statistics on the Offensive Behaviour Act.

Taken together the figures show that there has been a 15% reduction in offences involving religious hatred and that while racial crime remains the most commonly reported hate crime the number of charges made has fallen by 12%.

There has been an increase in the number of charges (138) reported against disabled people, however. This is more than double the number reported in the previous year. In addition, the number of charges related to sexual orientation was 12% higher this year than in 2011-12.

According to the Government, the increase is likely to reflect the introduction of the Offences (Aggravation by Prejudice) (Scotland) Act in March 2010, which specifically addresses prejudice relating to disability, sexual orientation and transgender identity and may have led to increased reporting of such offences.

Knife crime

Knife crime has also fallen across Scotland. A third set of statistics, published earlier this month, shows a 29% decrease in crimes of handling an offensive weapon since 2011-2012. Overall, there has been a 60% drop since 2006.

According to Lord Advocate Frank Mullholland QC, the fall is likely due to a zero tolerance policy in respect of knife carrying, which was introduced permanently across Scotland in April 2012.

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