THE number of homicides in Scotland is at the lowest level since modern crime recording began, according to a new report.

The latest statistics released by Scotland’s chief statistician found that, in 2022-23, 52 victims of homicide were recorded – one victim fewer than the 53 victims recorded in 2021-22.

This is the lowest number of recorded homicide victims since comparable records began in 1976.

Of the 52 victims recorded in 2022-23, 75% (39) were male and 25% (13) were female.

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Over the past 20 years, from 2003-04 to 2022-23, the number of homicide victims in Scotland has fallen by over half from 109 to 52 – with the largest reduction found amongst young people aged 16-24.

For each of the last 20 years, the most common method of killing was with a sharp instrument – which includes knives, broken bottles, swords, sharpened screwdrivers and any other pointed or edged weapons.

In 2022-23, a sharp instrument was the main method of killing for 58% (or 30) of homicide victims. Eight victims were killed by a partner or ex-partner – six of whom were female and two were male.

The National: Angela Constance

Justice Secretary Angela Constance (above) said: “Every life lost to homicide is a tragedy and my condolences go out to anyone who has lost a loved one in this way.

“These figures show, there are fewer such tragedies with the number of homicides falling to this new record low. Coupled with the fact that recorded crime in Scotland remains at one of the lowest levels in the past 50 years, shows that our communities continue to be safe places to live.

“Whilst I welcome this continued decrease in homicides, I recognise that there is more we need to do to prevent violence and reduce harm when it does occur. That’s why our Violence Prevention Framework is so important in its aim to prevent and divert people away from violence supported by more than £2 million of investment.

“The Domestic Homicide Review Taskforce is also continuing to develop a process to support organisations to learn lessons following a death and better identify and respond effectively to the risks associated with abuse, to help prevent further deaths.

“We remain committed to working closely with both the Scottish Police Authority and Police Scotland to support the delivery of the Joint Policing Strategy to ensure together we continue to have a safe, protected and resilient Scotland.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Paul Livingstone, head of major crime at Police Scotland, said: “Every murder is a tragedy for individuals, families and local communities.

“Our dedicated murder investigators bring a high level of professional practice, compassion, competence and commitment to each investigation.

“As a single national service we are able to bring a consistent approach, working with partners, to every investigation.

“We hope this commitment gives the public confidence in their police service.”

He added: “The pursuit of justice, regardless of the passage of time, is a core duty of policing and central to public confidence and police legitimacy.

“We apply the same level of commitment and professionalism to unresolved cases from the past, to provide answers and justice for families, even after decades.”