Two dramatic signs of a better place as stillbirth and homicide in Scotland settle into lower European levels


homicidesEnglandHomicide England & Wales

These are just two signs, but they tell us something about a society. Like the canary in the mine, soaring stillbirth and homicide levels suggest that things are going very wrong. The murder of women, of children or of ethno-religious minorities is often characterised as such a sign, but low homicide rates generally are typical of those societies commonly lauded for their quality of life, such as the Scandinavian countries, Ireland and New Zealand. Similarly, these countries also have the lowest stillbirth levels.

I’ve already reported on stillbirth and infant deaths here:

Scottish stillbirth and early infant death rates lowest in the UK and approaching lowest in the world

This table shows the comparative situation, with regard to homicide in 2016:


In 2016, there were signs already of Scotland’s improvement from having been the most violent country in Europe only 13 years ago:

The homicide rate in 2005 was 2.33 per 100 000, twice the rate in 2016. With only 59 homicides in 2017/18, the rate is now 1.11, falling noticeably below that of England & Wales, now 1.25, and even Sweden, 1.22.

If the low level for Northern Ireland in 2016 surprised you, it did me too. However, there were 22 ‘violent deaths’ in 2018 giving a ratio of 1.22. I don’t know why these contrasting figures are out there.

Here’s more detail on the Scottish figures:

‘Between 2016-17 and 2017-18, the number of homicide cases recorded by the police in Scotland decreased by 5% (three cases) from 62 to 59 (Table 1). This is the joint lowest number of recorded homicide cases for a single twelve month period since 1976, the first year for which comparable data are available. Over the ten year period from 2008-09 to 2017-18, the number of homicide cases in Scotland fell by 39% (38 cases) from 97 to 59 (Table 1). Glasgow City accounted for over one third (34%) of this decrease. In 2017-18, almost one fifth (11) of the 59 national recorded homicide cases occurred within Glasgow City (Table 2).’

The situation in England and Wales is being widely reported and discussed in the non-Scottish press:

Homicide rate in England and Wales highest since 2008

The murder and manslaughter rate in England and Wales has risen to the highest in a decade, official figures show.

There were 719 homicides – murder and manslaughter – in the year to June, a 14% increase from 630 in the previous year excluding exceptional incidents in 2017 such as the terrorist attacks in London and Manchester, the Office for National Statistics said. It was the highest number since 775 homicides were recorded in the year to March 2008.

Why is the homicide rate in Scotland falling? Well I’m sure it’s complex with multiple variables but SNP government health policies and those of Police Scotland must have played some part. Had we seen this under a Labour government in Scotland, you can be sure they’d be talking more of the credit than could be justified.

Less homicide, less knife crime, less domestic violence, safer cities and now much lower alcohol problems: should Scotland’s old stereotypes be sent south?

Against the odds: Evidence of how SNP policies have defended Scotland against a least some of Tory austerity


7 thoughts on “Two dramatic signs of a better place as stillbirth and homicide in Scotland settle into lower European levels

  1. Ludo Thierry October 31, 2018 / 8:25 am

    I’ll second that motion John. Stillbirth rate lower, Homicide rate lower – and, from beeb Scotland site, breastfeeding rate rising (snippet and link below):

    Breastfeeding rate in Scotland increases

    The number of babies being breastfed at 6 to 8 weeks in Scotland has increased from 36% in 2001/02 to 42% in 2017/18.

    This comes after Scotland became the first country in the UK to receive 100% Baby Friendly accreditation in maternity and community services.

    The Scottish government is investing an additional £2m for breastfeeding support, almost doubling funding.

    This is what can be achieved by a Scottish focussed SNP Govt and Parliament within the confines of the hopelessly inadequate devolution settlement. Just consider for one moment what we can achieve when we reach the ‘sunlit uplands’ of Indy. We are, truly, in the early days of our Better Nation.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Legerwood October 31, 2018 / 5:14 pm

    The clear-up rate for homicides also seems to be Bette in Scotland. The Chief Constable reported to a Holyrood Committee, yesterday I think – that there had been over 320 homicides in Scotland since Police Scotland was formed in 2013 and all but 2 had been ‘detected’ and the two cases were still the subject of investigations


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