Scotland 2017: Murders at record lows; rapes at record highs
Chief Reporter, The Herald
Scotland‘s murder rate fell back to 40-year lows last year just as reports of rape hit a new high
Police figures showed there were just 59 killings in 2017-2018, one of the smallest violent death tolls since modern records began in 1976.
However, the fresh numbers also reveal a dramatic 22 percent rise in reports of rapes to an all-time high of 2136 – with two out of five such complaints described as “historic”.
The two statistics, which are as yet unofficial, underline two huge generational changes in Scotland: the decline in violence of the last decade and a new readiness to report sex crimes.
John Carnochan, a retired detective chief superintendent and former head of Scotland’s ground-breaking Violence Reduction Unit or VRU, said stressed homicide figures were always the most reliable of all.
READ MORE: Crime and alcohol
And the trend – over the years – is clear. There were 55 murders and four culpable homicides according to Police Scotland‘s first body count for 2017-2018. That compares with an official tolls of 137 criminally violent deaths in 2004-2005 and 61 in 2016-19 and 58 in 2015-16.
Scotland’s homicide rate looks set to be around the level achieved in 2015-2016 of under 11 per 100,000, putting a country once unfairly branded Europe’s murder capital at roughly the same level as neighbouring Nordic states such as Sweden. Scottish figures used to be twice as high as Sweden’s. However, final checked figures will not be published until later this year.
Mr Carnochan wants to get behind the numbers to understand why Scotland, on average, still suffers more than one murder a week.
“We still have to look at why 59 people died because that is still a high number.”
The veteran detective added: “I would never want to say that more than 2000 reported rapes is a good thing. But we must see this as a sign that attitudes have changed, that the police and other agencies are more receptive and that women feel more confident to report.”
The rise in rapes – and overall sexual offending – helped nudge up Scotland’s total number for crime. But a biggest contribution came from crimes of dishonesty.
Experts have long suspected that cyber thefts were being under-reported. The national force said there were 8,628 incidents of fraud recorded in 2017/18, a nearly 18 per cent increase on the previous year. Officers said this was thanks to internet crime such as “vishing” and money transfer frauds.
Shoplifting was also up, by nearly 10 percent A police spokesman said anecdotal evidence suggested a huge rise in thefts of food from shops. This trend was first spotted six years ago when officers first started referring some shoplifters to food banks.
But recent get-tough policies on welfare and immigration, sources suggest, has seen a rise in destitution while hard-hit retailers. some facing their own internet challenges, are less tolerant of stock losses.
Interim Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said his force was adapting to meet the changing shape of crime, not least online, with both sexual and dishonesty offences now increased carried out over the web or phones.
He said: “We are investing in our cyber capabilities to ensure we are properly equipped to meet the modern challenges in keeping Scottish communities safe.
“We have dedicated cyber-crime units and work in partnership with national and international partners to tackle this growing threat.
“Levels of satisfaction and public confidence have remained very high and people will continue to see uniformed officers in their communities.
“We are moving officers from back office roles onto the frontline, but frontline policing has also moved into the virtual world where an increasing number of crimes are being committed.”
The drop in both murders and serious assaults comes despite high-profile tit-for-tat gangland violence across the central belt. Mr. Livingstone’s force said a number of seriously organised crime groups had fallen with two major operations – Escalade and Monchina – resulting in the conviction of several members of seriously organised crime groups in the past year.
However, most police work does not involve crime. Officers had to look for 23,000 missing persons in the year, a rise of more than four percent. But road deaths fell, in a historic change even more dramatic than homicides. There were 146 traffic fatalities, down 15 percent from 172 a year before. Of those who lost their lives, just two were children, down from 11.
Source: The Herald
Your Donations Help Support Our Work