Violent crime in Scotland down by half over last decade

Overall crime has fallen by 45% since 2008-09 while violent crime has declined by 48%, an official survey shows.

Violent crime in Scotland has nearly halved over the last decade or so, official figures show.

Overall crime in Scotland has fallen by 45% since 2008-09, while violent crime has declined by 48% over the same period, according to the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS) 2018-19.

The proportion of adults experiencing violence has fallen from 4.1% in 2008-09 to 2.2%, while those aged 16 to 24 are the most likely to be victims of violence.

The majority (60%) of violent crime is inflicted on repeat victims, despite them only making up 0.7% of the adult population.

However, that’s a fall from the numbers of people experiencing repeat violent crime – classed as at least two violent incidents – back in 2008-09, when it was 1.6% of adults.

Violent crime accounted for 29% of all crime.

Most incidents of violence involved male offenders under the age of 40 who were known or previously seen by the victim.

Offenders being under the influence of alcohol or drugs were fairly common factors in violent crime.

However, the presence of weapons was relatively rare and has fallen since 2010-11.

The majority of violent incidents were cases of minor assault
resulting in no or negligible injury (60%), with instances of serious assault accounting for 7% and robberies for 3%.

The SCJS spoke to more than 5500 Scots about their experiences of crime and justice, including incidents not reported to the police.

People said they were more likely to feel safe in their communities than a decade ago.

“While it is encouraging that Scotland remains a safer place than a decade ago, with fewer victims of crime, there is no room for complacency.”

Justice secretary Humza Yousaf

Perceptions in the community

In 2018/19, the majority of adults in Scotland said they felt very or fairly safe walking alone in their local area after dark (78%) and when in their home alone at night (96%).

Although the vast majority continue to feel safe in their home at night, this proportion fell slightly but significantly between 2016-17 and 2017-18 and remains unchanged.

Meanwhile, women, people in deprived areas and victims of crime were less likely to feel safe, more likely to be worried about specific types of
crime, and more likely to think they would experience crime in the coming year.

Justice secretary Humza Yousaf said: “While it is encouraging that Scotland remains a safer place than a decade ago, with fewer victims of crime, there is no room for complacency.

“Our firm focus on early intervention and prevention, including through widely-recognised anti-violence initiatives such as the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, No Knives Better Lives and Medics Against Violence, have been, and continue to be, critical to our efforts to keep crime down and communities safe.

“We continue to invest in Scotland’s excellent police service and in communities themselves – through education and a range of projects, to help people to stay safe, to steer those at risk of being drawn into crime away from it and to support those with convictions to turn away from offending.

“Where people do fall victim to crime, the Scottish Government has been investing millions of pounds and implementing reforms to strengthen how the justice system, wider public services and other organisations can support them.”

Types of crime

The SCJS suggests most adults (88%) were not victims of any crime in 2018-19, while just one in eight Scots (12%) experienced crime in 2018-19 – compared to 15% in England and Wales.

It is also a drop from the one in five (20%) Scots who reported experiencing crime in 2008-09.

The likelihood of experiencing any crime was higher among those living in the 15% most deprived and urban areas, and lower for those aged 60 and over.

There was no major difference in the proportion of men and women who were victims.

Vandalism continued to be the most common form of property crime in Scotland (accounting for 38% of incidents) but the volume of incidents has more than halved since 2008-09.

Personal theft (24%) and other household theft such as bicycle theft (23%) were the next common types of property crime.

One in five adults (20%) who use the internet said they had experienced one or more types of cyber fraud or computer misuse in the year 2018/19, with 5% having been victims of more than one type.

The most common type of cyber crime was having a device infected with a virus (experienced by 8% of internet users).

A total of 4.8% and 4.5% respectively experienced being hacked or having their bank or card details stolen.

There were 4.5% of internet users who reported being a victim of a scam email, while just over 4% said they had been scammed over the phone.

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