More than a third of criminals with guns have avoided jail over the last three years, it has been claimed.
New figures released following a freedom of information request indicates that 38% of those who have committed a crime where a gun has been involved have not been given a custodial sentence.
It includes those who have been convicted of robbery with a firearm, assault and possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life.
The figures cover convictions in the period of 2018/2019, 2019/2020 and 2020/21.
They show that in 2018/19, 35 out of 57 criminals went to jail for a crime where a firearm modifier was involved.
The proportion fell to 24 out of 38 criminals going to jail in 2019-20, followed by 22 out of 35 going to jail in 2020-21.
It means that 81 out of 130 criminals went to jail during that period, with 38% avoiding going to jail.
The Scottish Conservatives have criticised the introduction of a presumption against prison sentences of 12 months and under in Scotland.
They say that this has resulted in a reduction in the number of violent and sexual criminals going to jail.
The Scottish Government has said that all those convicted of homicide, attempted homicide or serious assault with a firearm between 2018 and 2021 received a custodial sentence.
Scottish Conservative justice spokesman Jamie Greene said the figures “lay bare” the SNP’s “prison-emptying” project.
“The public will rightly be concerned at these startling statistics,” said Greene.
“Criminals with guns are extremely dangerous and you would expect the vast majority of them to end up in jail, especially when violence is involved.
“But these figures lay bare the SNP’s prison-emptying project which is designed to allow an ever-increasing number of violent criminals to roam Scotland’s streets.
“Violent crime has risen to its highest level since Nicola Sturgeon became First Minister, yet she continues to take her eye off the ball by focusing on her plans for a divisive independence referendum rather than keeping our streets safe.
“The SNP needs to start putting public safety front and centre of their work. They could start by ending their soft-touch approach to violent crime and finally getting tough on these dangerous criminals.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said that strong action is being taken to tackle violence.
“Latest statistics show that crimes involving use of firearms are among the lowest on record in the last 40 years and continue to constitute only a small proportion of all offences,” they said.
“Scotland’s police, prosecutors and the courts have the powers needed to deal with perpetrators of crime. While sentencing in any case remains a matter for the independent courts, custody is available if the court considers it necessary.
“We are taking strong action to tackle violence and are providing partners with over £2m to support ongoing and new innovative violence prevention activity across Scotland in 2022-23.”
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