Violence: key points

Violence has been a persistent problem across Scotland and can take many forms, such as domestic abuse or gang violence . 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, Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS), Homicide in Scotland, Domestic Abuse recorded by the police in Scotland and ISD’s Unintentional Injuries Report.

  • The number of non-sexual crimes of violence (homicide, attempted murder, serious assault, robbery and other violent crime) recorded by the police increased by 7% from 6,357 in 2014/15 to 6,775 in 2015/16. The recording of these crimes is at the second lowest level seen since 1974.
  • The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS) estimates that 186,000 violent crimes were committed against adults in 2014/15.
  • In 2015/16 there were 57 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 2015/16, 10,273 sexual crimes were recorded by the police; this was an increase of 7% from 2014/15 and is at the highest level since comparable recording started in 1971.
  • In 2015/16 there were 58,104 incidents of domestic abuse recorded by the police in Scotland, a decrease of 3% from 2014/15. Just over half of these (51%) led to a crime or offence being recorded. 
  • In 2015/16 there were 2,413 emergency admissions to hospital related to assault; 23% 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 September 2017.
  • The next major review and update is due to be carried out by end March 2018.