'Troubling' increase in violent and sexual crimes over last five years

Figures released on Tuesday show that there has been a 9% increase in non-sexual violent crime since 2021.

Violent and sexual crime in Scotland rises in last five years, figures show Andranik Hakobyan via iStock

Violent and sexual crime has risen in Scotland in the last five years, according to official statistics.

Figures show that in the year ending June 2022, a total of 70,156 non-sexual violent crimes were recorded.

It is a rise of 5% on the 66,540 incidents in the year ending June 2018, and is an increase of 9% on the previous year, with 64,080 incidents in the year ending June 2021.

There has also been a rise in the number of sexual crimes recorded in the country.

In the year ending June 2018, 13,055 sexual crimes were recorded in Scotland.

During the most recent period however, the figure had increased to 14,880, a rise of 14%.

The coronavirus pandemic impacted on the number of crimes recorded during the 2020/21 period, with significant increases seen in last year’s statistics as lockdown measures were eased.

In publishing the statistics, the Scottish Government noted that crime is at the lowest level recorded by police for a 12 month period since 1974.

Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy, however, accused the SNP of presiding over a “crime wave” which he said had been caused by the party’s “disastrous” management of the justice system.

“These troubling statistics confirm that violent and sexual crime continues to soar alarmingly under the SNP Government,” said Hoy.

“They are presiding over a crime wave caused by their disastrous management of the justice system, which has led to record numbers of police retirements, criminals being wrongly released and court backlogs causing delays for victims seeking justice.

“Despite this, the SNP are set to make things even worse by slashing the future justice budget still further, meaning more criminals getting away with their crimes as there aren’t the resources to catch them.

“Keeping the public safe should be a top priority for the SNP Government, but these startling statistics make clear it is not.”

Justice secretary Keith Brown acknowledged that there is “more to be done” in reducing crime.

He stated that the Scottish Government has invested over £24m in order to specifically target a reduction in violent crime since 2008.

“We know that Scotland continues to be a safe place to live, where the vast majority of people do not experience crime,” he said.

“The latest figures today show recorded crime is at the lowest level seen since 1974, and down 43% since 2006-07.

“This is welcome as it means that every year there are thousands fewer victims in Scotland than there were 15 years ago.

“But there is more to be done. Continuing to reduce crime and the harm it causes both individuals and our society as a whole is central to our ambitious vision to reform our justice system.”

Brown insisted that the Government is “absolutely committed” to support hard working police officers.

“Where crime does occur we have made £48m available to organisations that support victims over the next three years, a move that underlines our absolute commitment to putting victims very firmly at the centre of the justice system,” he continued.

“We have invested over £24m to specifically target violence reduction since 2008 and will highlight our priorities to tackle violence when we publish the first ever national Violence Prevention Framework later this year.

“While the police cleared up more sexual crimes in 2021-22 than ever before, like many other countries Scotland continues to see growth in reported cases.

“Multiple factors lie behind the increase including a greater willingness of victims to come forward, more historical reporting, more online offending and the impact of new legislation.

“We also remain absolutely committed to supporting our hard working police officers as recruitment bounces back from the Covid period and the necessary closure of the Tulliallan training college to ensure the safe policing of the COP26 climate summit.”

Scottish Labour justice spokesperson Pauline McNeill claimed there had been a “stunning complacency” by the Government.

“This terrifying leap in violent crime calls for urgent action, but instead the SNP are patting themselves on the back for a job well done,” she said.

“This stunning complacency is a gross insult to victims and shows they don’t grasp the scale of the challenge we face.

“We need a real plan to keep our communities safe and prevent violent and sexual crimes, but instead the SNP spin machine is in overdrive as they plough ahead with their dangerous plans to inflict real terms cuts to policing budgets.”

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