Since March of 2018, statistics have shown a staggering increase in violent crimes across Scotland. This criminal epidemic has seen over 8,000 recorded non-sexual crimes, up from a figure of 7,268 recorded in the previous year. With sexual offenses increasing at a similar rate, crime is now seen to be at the highest levels observed in the last 7 years.
According to the procurator fiscal Perth, the 10% increase over the last 12 months can be partially attributed to repeat victimization. As suggested in the findings of the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey, nearly 60% of victims surveyed reported having experienced an average of three violent crimes over the 2017-2018 period.
The broader umbrella of offenses falling into the jurisdiction of violent crime also accounts for domestic violence, which has recently seen a staggering 34% rate of reoccurring victimization.
In an examination of the core reasons behind repeat victimization, a government report by the Safer Communities Directorate stated that “being victimized once can change individuals or their circumstances in ways that increase the risk of being victimized again.” And while the review noted several patterns relating to the backgrounds and common characteristics of repeat victims, the government is expected to commission new research due to a lack of evidence specifically pertinent to Scotland. In the same report, it has also been noted that the government plans to focus on an improved strategy to reduce reoccurring violence that will center around the protection of victims following the initial criminal incident.
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However, despite the grim outlook, according to the bulletin of Recorded Crime in Scotland – the overall number of criminal offenses only rose by a mere 1%. Furthermore, the report states that crime remains at one of the lowest levels with police clear-up instead rising to the highest observed levels since 1976, when modern official reporting and recording procedures were instituted.
Amidst growing concerns, Police Scotland offers a surprisingly optimistic outlook, commenting that only 1% of the country’s population experienced 59% of the country’s crime. And while reports of sexual offenses come flooding in, “that is to be welcomed,” according to Deputy Chief Constable Will Kerr, who stated that the force is “aware that sexual crime remains under-reported and is working closely with partners to better understand and prevent violent crime.” During the same interview, Deputy Chief Constable Kerr also noted that Police Scotland “removes more than 600 weapons from the streets every year“. This success is mostly attributed to a relatively recent stop and search initiative, which is said to be responsible for a growing sense of trust towards the force among many local communities.
In spite of optimism on the part of the police force, Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary, Liam Kerr noted: “These shocking figures expose the reality that despite the SNP’s claims, violent crime is increasing at an astonishing rate.” Mr.Kerr continued to comment that “the SNP should abandon their plans to abolish short-term sentences immediately,” in favor of supporting Police Scotland in quelling this spike in violent crime.