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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 November, 2004, 11:30 GMT
Figures show drop in murder rate
Police tape
Knives, drink and drugs were a major feature in deaths
The murder rate in Scotland has fallen to its lowest level since 2000, according to figures.

There were 108 homicides recorded in 2003, 20 fewer than the previous year.

Men were six times more likely to be attacked than women and in nearly 80% of cases the victim was a relative or acquaintance of the killer.

Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson welcomed a drop in the number of knife-related deaths, although stabbings remained the most common fatal injury.

The annual Homicide in Scotland statistics were published by the Scottish Executive.

Many of these attacks occur because too many young men carry a knife whenever they leave their home
Cathy Jamieson
Justice Minister
The overall homicide rate in 2003 was 21 victims per million population, with men more than six times more likely to be killed than women.

Sharp instruments were the most common method of killing, accounting for 55 victims, or 51% of the total.

The report also showed that from those accused in connection with the deaths, 39% were drunk, 16% on drugs and 10% were both drunk and on drugs.

Ms Jamieson said the drop in deaths was encouraging but warned much still needed to be done.

Blade crackdown

She said: "Many of these attacks occur because too many young men carry a knife whenever they leave their home perhaps because they think it makes them look hard or in the mistaken belief that this will give them some form of protection.

"These figures show that coupled with the influence of drink or drugs, this is a recipe for disaster.

"Situations get out of control and too often end with an innocent stranger in A&E or worse still, the hospital morgue, and the offender facing years behind bars."

Earlier this week, the executive unveiled measures to tackle knife crime, including doubling the sentence for possession, licensing retailers and plans to give police more powers of search and arrest.

Crackdown targets knife culture
22 Nov 04 |  Scotland
Figures show drop in gun crime
27 Oct 04 |  Scotland
Stabbings 'a public health issue'
17 Oct 04 |  Scotland
Police use knife crime powers
28 Feb 04 |  Scotland
Police struggle over crime target
19 Dec 03 |  Scotland


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