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BBC Scotland's Martha Fairlie reports
"One in five people over the age of 16 was a victim of crime last year"
 real 56k

Graeme Pearson, Strathclyde Police
"I think there is a culture among teenagers in particular that they encourage each other to carry knives"
 real 28k

Thursday, 21 December, 2000, 10:49 GMT
Dramatic rise in violent crime
Housebreaker
Figures for overall crime have fallen
Violent crime has soared by a third in Scotland over the last four years, according to new figures.

The Scottish Crime Survey said there had been a fall of 13% in overall crime between 1995 and 1999.

But it said violent crime bucked the trend with an increase of 33% over the same period.

Scottish Justice Minister Jim Wallace has blamed the country's "unacceptable" culture of drink and violence for the figures.

Domestic violence
A question was introduced on domestic violence
Strathclyde Police's assistant chief constable Graeme Pearson said: "It is no secret that young men are violent to other young men - those aged 14 to 18 who are under the influence of alcohol and unfortunately in the culture of Scotland carry knives.

"I think there is a culture among teenagers in particular that they encourage each other to carry knives and young men feel there is a macho image to do so.

"All we can do is to continue with the successful tactics we have been involved with so far. I would like to see licensed premises taking additional responsibility for the management of there premises.

"The majority are well managed and security staff should be trained to intercede early when violent acts occur."

More than 5,000 people over the age of 16 were interviewed for the survey, which measures the public's experience of crime.

Victim of crime

The report showed crime had fallen by 29% over the 19 years since the first survey.

It found that Scotland had a lower rate of all types of crime than England and Wales.

Fear of crime also fell, with 28% of people believing crime to be a "extremely serious" problem, compared to 50% in 1993.

The same proportion said they felt unsafe walking alone after dark, compared with 39% in 1993, while 72% said they believed police in their area did a good job.

Other findings included a 30% fall in vehicle-related crime, including vandalism and theft, and a near-halving of "dishonesty" offences such as thefts from cars, garages and gardens.

One in five people over the age of 16 had been a victim of crime during 1999.

The 33% rise in violent crime was partially explained by the introduction of a new question on domestic violence.

Jim Wallace
Jim Wallace: "Unacceptable culture of violence"
Mr Wallace said the overall picture was encouraging, as crime in Scotland was at its lowest level since the surveys were introduced in 1981.

But he said the increase in violent crime was "worrying".

"They confirm what we know already - that there is an unacceptable culture of violence which links in with alcohol, drugs, domestic abuse and street crime," he said.

"We need to and we are tackling this.

"Let's not kid anyone. Scotland's culture of violent crime did not happen overnight, and won't be turned around overnight.

Parent responsibility

"But we have to turn it around, and we are taking action to do just that."

However, the Conservatives blamed the figures on alleged cuts in police numbers.

The Scottish National Party said the focus now had to move towards tackling violent crime, particularly youth crime, looking at areas such as education and parent responsibility.

Last month figures showed that the number of killings in Scotland had leapt by almost a quarter.

The statistics showed an upsurge in homicides caused by knives or other sharp instruments - and an equal increase in the number of men dying.

Figures released by the Government Statistical Service showed that there were 120 homicide victims in Scotland last year - an increase of 22 on the previous year.

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See also:

06 Dec 00 | Scotland
Scottish homicide rate soars
12 Oct 00 | Scotland
Crime hits 25-year low
05 Oct 00 | Scotland
War declared on violent crime
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