As crime falls, Scots feel safer than ever before


From the just-released Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2016/17, it is clear that as crime falls, Scots are feeling safer. The graph above shows the quite dramatic fall in overall crime in the ten years of SNP government. Governments of the day always feel at least partly justified in claiming some credit, for the obvious reason that, were crime climbing, they’d be blamed for it. Violent crime, in particular, has fallen with a 27% drop in all violent crimes since 2008/2009. Reasons for falling crime are, of course, complex and contested with factors such as freely available contraception and lowered lead-levels in the environment, given credit, along with improved policing and better government policies. See this for more:

As major global cities like London struggle with pollution, levels in Scotland have dropped by more than 66% since 1990. Has this contributed to falling crime levels too?

These changes have also resulted in more Scots reporting confidence in walking alone after dark in their local area. See this:


Finally, Scots continue to report lower levels of experience of crime than those in England and Wales. See this:


This ten-year trend contrasts markedly with the situation as recently as 2005. See this:

Scotland has second highest murder rate in Europe:

Interestingly, speaking to a few people in their late seventies or early eighties, few believed that these changes were taking place. I suppose you’d only have to watch TV news or read a local newspaper to see why they might think so.


5 thoughts on “As crime falls, Scots feel safer than ever before

  1. Hugh Wallace March 28, 2018 / 5:24 pm

    Interesting. I was chatting with an ex-police friend of mine a week or two ago who was convinced that this is all smoke & mirrors & things are just as bad as they’ve always been.

    Being ex-polis m’sel I know how badly crime statistics can be manipulated. I remember having a sergeant try & get me to record an attempted house breaking as a vandalism for the purposes of the bean counters & my pal tells the tale of an attempted murder (someone’s throat being cut) getting downgraded to a serious assault because they could glue the wound shut rather than needing stitches. But the one statistic that is hard to hide or manipulate is ‘homicide’ – unlawful death as a result of murder or culpable homicide (aka manslaughter in Englandshire) – and in 2007 that stood at 115 in Scotland whereas it had been hovering around the 60 mark for the past few years. Sure, our NHS trauma teams are getting better at saving lives so that may account for a few but overall we have to recognise that we Scots kill fewer of our fellow Scots now than we did a few years ago.

    A wee historical snippet to put this into further perspective: when I was in the police in Aberdeen I used to cover the posh(ish) suburb of Peterculter (that’s a silent ‘l’ for all you Central Belters) & rarely had to go there as it was such a low crime area. I remember having a chat with the community bobby who recounted being so bored one day at work (due to the low crime) that he’d looked up the statistics from a hundred years ago: I forget the year but there were 9 murders in Peterculter that year alone. In 2011 when I had that conversation there were not even that many in the whole of Aberdeen.

    Ah, the good old days when things were so much better than they are now…


  2. Ludo Thierry March 28, 2018 / 7:36 pm

    Wow Hugh – that’s interesting history about the murder rate in ‘Culter back a century and a bit more. Nine murders in the area in one single year – that was certainly going some. I work fairly regularly in the area and will never quite, in future, view it as the douce village I have, hitherto, considered it!

    As with all public service statistics there will always be a certain degree of people recording things under one particular heading when they could, equally, be considered under another heading. I suppose the important element is the large quantity of items recorded and the ‘year on year’ nature of the recording. This process allows the statisticians to iron out anomalies and start to have a solid body of useful info that can be drilled into and used – with a fair degree of utility – to make comparisons over time – and thus identify trends.

    So – overall – I think we have to take The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey info pretty seriously – as it is the best info we currently have to work with. As John is always careful to point out – if the trends were going in the opposite direction the MSM and beeb would be calling for SNP blood – so it is only fair for the SNP Scottish Govt to bask in a bit of reflected credit when the figures record a 43 year low of recorded crime.

    The comparative figures from 2008/09 which estimated 1,045,000 crimes are a fairly stark contrast to the 2016/17 estimated figures of 712,000 crimes. Sensible, competent governance must, surely, be at least one of the likely elements involved in delivering such a significant change over a sustained period of time? (That’s approx. a 32% drop – that’s not easy to manipulate on a large-scale survey).

    Still with the Justice system – I noticed a report of a case that seems significant on the Scottish legal website yesterday – but not seeing anywhere else. Thought it was worth giving an edited version here as I know that many readers are interested in land access and transit issues:

    The owners of a Scottish estate who were seeking to challenge a decision to the effect that they had breached “the right to roam” by locking three gated entrances to the land and by erecting a sign warning of wild boar have had their appeal dismissed.

    The Inner House of the Court Session has refused an appeal by Renyana Stahl Anstalt, the Liechtenstein-based owners of the Drumlean Estate in the Trossachs, against a decision of the Sheriff Appeal Court, which upheld a complaint by Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Authority over the
    extent to which the landowners required to afford access to members of the public over the estate in terms of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003.

    The court considered that a landowner’s purpose was to be ascertained objectively. Contrary to the view of the sheriff and Sheriff Appeal Court, the owner’s intention or motive was not relevant.

    When the case was reconsidered in light of this approach, the inevitable conclusion was that the main purpose of locking the gates was to deter persons from exercising their rights of access and transit under the 2003 Act. Whatever motive, intention or reasons may have been proffered for doing so, and whether they were genuinely held, the gates were and are locked for the purpose of preventing or deterring access to the farm by the public.

    I’m no legal eagle but that seems an important principle being established by the Court of Session. The 2003 Land Reform (Scotland) Act was a very inadequate piece of legislation passed during the Lab/Lib Dem coalition years – but even that inadequate piece of legislation is managing to deliver important court rulings which help to protect public access. There have been further improvements to this area of law following the election of the SNP Scottish Govt. Bit by bit these improvements will continue to bleed through. It’s a lang, sair fecht this ‘.. Better Nation..’ task we’ve set ourselves – but important to notice the genuine improvements we are (slowly) achieving along the road to Indy.

    Liked by 2 people

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