Violence: key points

Violence has been a persistent problem across Scotland and can take many forms, such as domestic abuse, gang violence or suicide. The WHO’s World Report on Violence and Health (2002) describes violence as a public health problem and calls for a public health response to violence prevention and reduction. In Scotland the Violence Reduction Unit takes a lead in tackling all forms of violence and attitudes to violence.  They take a public health approach aiming to treat the causes of violence in order to reduce it and are the only police members of the World Health Organisation's Violence Prevention Alliance. 

The following key points are derived from a number of publications: Recorded Crime in Scotland, 2014/15, Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS) 2012/13, Homicide in Scotland, 2014-15, Domestic Abuse recorded by the police in Scotland, 2013/14 and 2014/15 and Unintentional Injuries Report 2014/15.

  • The number of non-sexual crimes of violence (homicide, attempted murder, serious assault, robbery and other) recorded by the police decreased by 6.3% from 6,785 in 2013/14 to 6,357 in 2014/15 and has more than halved in the last decade.

  • The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS) estimates that 186,000 violent crimes were committed against adults in 2014/15.

  • In 2014/15 there were 59 cases of homicide (murder and culpable homicide) recorded by the police. This represents a rate of 11 victims per million of the population in Scotland.

  • In 2014/15, 9,557 sexual crimes were recorded by the police; this was an increase of 11% from 2013/14 and is at the highest level since comparable recording started in 1971.

  • In 2014-15 there were 59,882 incidents of domestic abuse recorded by the police in Scotland, an increase of 2.5% from 2013-14. Just over half of these (54%) led to a crime or offence being recorded. 

  • In 2014/15 there were 2,532 emergency admissions to hospital related to assault; 21% were for an assault with a sharp object.

The Crime section of the ScotPHO website provides a more general overview of crime.

Section updates:

  • The last major update of this section was completed in March 2016.
  • The next major review and update is due to be carried out by end June 2017.