Crime: policy context

Concern about crime in Scotland has led to crime reduction being a key government priority. Since the inception of the new Scottish Parliament and a devolved Scottish government in 1999, efforts to tackle crime have been reflected in many policy documents. The current Scottish Government has five strategic objectives one of which is to create a safer and stronger Scotland 'to help local communities to flourish, becoming stronger, safer places to live, offering improved opportunities and a better quality of life.' It is intended that the Safer and Stronger Scotland agenda will be delivered through all 15 national outcomes, but in particular through the national outcome that 'We live our lives safe from crime, disorder and danger'. The government aims to achieve this through: speedy and effective enforcement to deter re-offending; a strong and well-targeted police presence to reduce the fear of crime; effective punishment; by reducing the fear of crime and antisocial behaviour and tackling the root causes of crime by addressing the challenges of drink, drugs and deprivation.

There are a broad range of policies aimed at delivering a safer Scotland, not only to prevent and reduce crime, but also to deliver an effective criminal justice system.   The Strategy for Justice in Scotland, published in 2012, is a key policy that describes the outcomes-focused and evidence-based approach to delivering better justice outcomes in Scotland.  It cuts across a number of different parts of the criminal justice system, setting out priorities for action and programmes and activities that can address these.

Reducing crime remains a priority and a number of key areas have been highlighted for specific action.  Reducing violent crime is one such area; the Violence Reduction Unit offers expertise in what works to reduce violence and plays a major role in delivering better outcomes for Scotland.  They adopt a public health approach to violence reduction and aim to reduce and prevent violence by working across different sectors, focussing on enforcement and tackling the fundamental causes of violent behaviour. Reducing violence against women also remains a priority in Scotland; Equally Safe sets out Scotland's most recent strategy to take action on all forms of violence against women and girls. It offers four key areas aimed at early intervention when violence is already a problem, tackling perpetrators effectively and changing attitudes in order to deliver sustained changed and improved outcomes for women and girls in the long term.

Preventing children and young people becoming involved in criminal activity in the first place is an important outcome for the Scottish Government.  Preventing Offending: Getting it right for children and young people builds on earlier work in the area and sets out the priorities for 2015-2020. These include adopting a whole system approach to improve the life chances for children and young people and therefore reduce their likelihood to offend. This aim is integral to and reflected in a number policies relating to early years and education. 

More information on the priority areas mentioned here can be found on the Violence: policy context page along with links to specific areas.