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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 December 2007, 12:38 GMT
Figures show homicide rate up 27%
Knives and police
Knives or other sharp instruments were used in almost half the killings
Scotland's homicide rate has risen by 27% according to the latest figures released by the Scottish Government.

The statistics show that 119 people were unlawfully killed in the year ending April 2007.

Knives or other sharp instruments were used in almost half of the killings and 84% of victims were male.

Figures for the year to April 2006 saw homicide in Scotland at its lowest level in 15 years, with 93 killings - compared to 137 in 2005.

There have been 167 people accused of the 119 homicides recorded in the year 2006-07, an increase of 19% on the previous year.

Tackling violence

Almost half of the accused were reported to have been drunk or under the influence of drugs at the time and 92% were male.

Last year 64% of homicides were in the Strathclyde police force area, with six out of eight forces reporting an increase.

There were no cases of homicide reported in Dumfries and Galloway and figures in Tayside fell.

Statisticians point out homicide accounts for a tiny proportion - 0.2% - of all violent crime and the figures are still lower than the 134 homicides recorded in 2004-5.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: "These depressingly familiar statistics show the long-term challenge we face.

We want all of Scotland's children and young people to have the opportunity to see different ways of living
Kenny MacAskill
Justice secretary

"We are taking action to tackle Scotland's drinking culture now - while strongly supporting the longer-term strategy to change personal and cultural attitudes towards alcohol."

He claimed the government was working towards banning "irresponsible promotions" in off-sales, and bringing in separate display areas in off-sales to make sure alcohol is not seen as an everyday commodity.

"We also need to challenge the 'drink to get drunk' mentality of too many Scots," he added.

The government will continue to tackle knife crime in collaboration with the Violence Reduction Unit, increase the number of police officers on the streets and put an increasing emphasis on early intervention initiatives to tackle the root of crime.

Tory justice spokesman Bill Aitken said the figures were "appalling".

"We need more police officers, a faster court system, tighter bail laws and an end to the ridiculous, discredited system of automatic early release," he added.

"One thing is for certain - we cannot allow the present trend to continue."

SEE ALSO
Homicide level lowest in 15 years
21 Nov 06 |  Scotland
Homicide rate hits 10-year high
14 Dec 05 |  Scotland

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