Serious crime across Scotland has decreased according to police force statistics although the number of sexual offences has risen.
Seven out of eight of the country’s police forces recorded a drop in serious crime, the Scottish Government report released on Tuesday revealed.
However less serious offences, including breaches of the peace under the controversial Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act, increased by 13,784.
Overall serious crime figures - including violent and drug offences - dropped a further 3% last year, meaning it is at its lowest since 1975 with the total number of offences recorded by Scottish police forces hitting 314,186.
However, sexual offences increased from 6696 the previous year to 7359 in 2011-12, while violent crime fell 17%.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill welcomed the statistics and highlighted the 37 year low in the number of crimes recorded.
He said: "These figures are further good news for Scotland and underline that our communities are becoming increasingly safer and stronger. This is the fifth year in a row where recorded crime has fallen, to a 37-year low, and with police numbers remaining well above our pledge to put 1000 extra officers on our streets.
"I congratulate every one of the more than 17,000 police officers across Scotland for their excellent work to prevent and detect crime and catch criminals. What we are seeing is that recorded crime continues to fall at a time when police officer numbers are strong."
Map shows crime per 10,000 of population across Scotland in last four years as well as police clear-up rate in 2011-12.
The local authority areas in darker red have a higher number of crimes per 10,000 population. The map may not display on some devices.
There were 121 murders and culpable homicides in Scotland last year, down one on 2010 to 2011. The clear-up rate for all crimes remained at 49% for the fourth year running.
Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland QC welcomed the 10% drop in crimes of handling an offensive weapon to and said: "I hope that the prosecution service's zero tolerance policy on knife crime is contributing to the decrease in reported crime. One knife offence is one too many but it is encouraging that crimes of handling an offensive weapon have decreased since 2010-2011. In July last year I introduced new guidelines implementing tough new prosecution guidance to help deter knife carrying.
"The policy was extended this April with the introduction to include anyone caught in Scotland's town and city centres in possession of a knife to be prosecuted on indictment. The prosecution service is committed to working with the police and others to tackle the scourge of knife crime. We will continue to use our robust prosecution policy for those who are reported to the prosecution service. Those found in possession of a knife or who use a knife will be arrested and face the serious consequences of their actions."
Scotland's largest force, Strathclyde Police, saw an increase in serious crime to 154,787, while less serious offences rose to 270,176.
Lothian and Borders Police saw an overall decrease in crime, but recorded a 50% increase in prostitution-related offences and a rise of 78% in other sexual charges.
According to the statistical bulletin, Grampian Police's crime figures remained broadly the same with 29,226 serious offences and 54,099 other charges.
In a report, the government put the increase in sex offences down to new legislation that came into force at the end of 2010, which set out a legal definition of consent and gave recognition of male rape.
Legislative changes also resulted in the the offence of taking, distributing and possessing indecent photos of children to be classified as a sexual crime.
The number of rapes recorded across Scotland rose 19% to 1183 last year, while sexual assaults against children and adults also increased.
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