Scottish Homicide Rate Falls

The number of murders and culpable homicides recorded by police last year was the lowest since 1976.

Official data shows that in 2015-16, there were 57 homicides in Scotland - 8% fewer than the previous year.

As of March 31 this year, only one of these cases remained unsolved.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said the reduction in killings is "encouraging'', but he stressed work to tackle violent crime must continue "because each of the lives lost is one life too many''.

He was speaking after Scotland's Chief Statistician published new data on homicides, showing the level for 2015-16 to be the lowest for 40 years.

Almost three-quarters (72%) of homicide victims that year were male, with 41 men killed by someone else.

The Glasgow city area had the largest number of homicides with 14 cases in 2015-16. However the data shows the area has seen a 58% drop in killings since 2006-07.

Just over half (51%) of homicides last year were the result of stabbings with a sharp instrument such as a knife, while almost a fifth (19%) involved the victim being hit and kicked to death.

Fatal shootings were described as being "very rare'', with the number of homicides falling from eight in 2006-07 to just one in 2015-16.

The data also shows that in the last 10 years, 6% of male homicide victims aged 16-70 were killed by their partner or ex-partner, with 62% killed by an acquaintance and a further 18% by a stranger.

But for female victims in the same age group, just over half (51%) were killed by their partner or ex-partner, while 28% were killed by an acquaintance and 7% by a stranger.

Between 2006-07 and 2015-16, 41 children under the age of 16 were the victims of homicide - with the figures also showing that where there was an accused person, in 68% of cases they were killed by one of their parents.

There were 65 people who were accused of murder or culpable homicide in 2015-16, with nearly a third (31%) reported to have been under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the killing.

Mr Matheson said: "While it is encouraging to see continued falls in homicide cases alongside the long-term decline in violent crime, the sustained efforts that have helped achieve this - through education and enforcement - must continue, because each of the lives lost is one life too many.

"There is a clear role across a range of public services, in addition to the critical work of our police, to continue to support communities that may remain at risk from violent crime and to challenge irresponsible attitudes both to alcohol misuse and to so-called 'casual' violence.''

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