Crime At A 39 Year Low

Recorded crime has fallen to its lowest level for almost four decades, new figures reveal.

The Scottish Government figures also reveal a 16% increase in rapes last year. 

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said the rise in sexual offences is concerning but that ``today's statistics show that Scotland's communities are becoming safer places to live, with recorded crime falling for the sixth year in a row to its lowest level for 39 years''. 

Police logged 273,053 crimes last year, down from 314,188 in 2011-12, the lowest total since 1974. 

Non-sexual crimes of violence were down 21%, at 7,530. 

This includes a 25% drop in homicides, which includes murders, culpable homicides and death by both dangerous driving and careless driving, to a total of 91 last year. 

Attempted murders and serious assaults were down 22% to 3,643 while robberies were down 18% to 1,832. 

Crimes of dishonesty fell 12% to 135,899, while fireraising, vandalism and other similar crimes were down 21% to 59,479. 

Police recorded 7,693 sexual offences in 2012-13, up 332 on 2011-12. 

This includes 1,372 rapes, up from 1,183. 

Crimes of handling an offensive weapon fell 29% to 4,015, down from 5,631 in 2011-12. Drugs crimes were down 1% from 35,157 to 34,688 last year. 

Mr MacAskill said: ``It is particularly encouraging to see violent crime dropping by 21% last year and crimes of handling an offensive weapon down by 60% since 2006-07. However, make no mistake, there will be no let-up in our efforts, backed by record numbers of police officers - over 1,000 extra since 2007 - who are keeping communities safe and clearing up crimes more efficiently than ever before. 

``We are continuing to work tirelessly to reduce knife crime and violence in Scotland and believe education and prevention are key to tackling the root causes of violence. That's why we are investing in the No Knives, Better Lives initiative, now in 11 areas across Scotland, and why we work with other key partners like the Violence Reduction Unit and Medics Against Violence. 

``Together we are working hard to change attitudes to violence and knife crime, making it clear that it is never acceptable. We are also taking a robust approach to enforcement. Sentences for carrying a knife in Scotland are the toughest in the UK and our prosecutors are taking a zero-tolerance approach. 

``Today's figures show these united efforts to tackle knife crime are beginning to pay off but there will be no complacency. 

``While today's overall statistics are encouraging, it is concerning to see that the number of sexual offences recorded by police have increased by 5%. This may be down to increased reporting but the public should be assured that the Scottish Government, police and prosecutors take the investigation and prosecution of these traumatic crimes extremely seriously, and are taking action to address them. 

He added: ``At a Government level, we have strengthened the law around sex crimes by bringing in the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009. We are also giving £3.6 million funding to support victims of rape from 2012-15. 

``Meanwhile the Scottish police service has launched a new National Rape Taskforce to further improve the investigation of rape and other sexual crimes right across the country.'' 

While crime has fallen, police recorded a slight increase in low-level offences, up 1% to 543,768 from the previous year's total of 542,315.