Detectives are now solving more murders than take place.

 

Police Scotland has published a detection rate for homicide of 109% - as falling violence means it can re-investigate old whodunnits.

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The stark number came as the total number of murders recorded in the country fell to just 55 in 2014-2015. And only 52 of those killings actually took place in the financial year.

That left room to re-open cold cases and for the force to refocus resources on other areas, such as domestic violence. Police solved five murders from previous years in 2014-15.

The new crime statistics from Police Scotland, published Tuesday, mark the latest in a near-decade long drop in violent crime.

There were 6,357 so-called group 1 violent crimes, the most serious offences such as serous assault, robbery, attempted murder. Only one of those categories rose, robbery, and only by 0.3 per cent. Less serious violent crime is also falling, common assaults were down 3.5 per cent.

Violence is on the wane across most of the northern hemisphere although a recent study found that homicides, the easiest crime to compare, were falling particularly quickly in Scotland =- and faster than in England and Wales.

However, the good news on serious violence was matched by equally grim figures on sex offending. They were up more than 9 per cent over the year at 9,557. It is only within recent years that there have been more of these so-called group 2 offences than Group 1 violent ones.

This crime category includes prostitution - but offences related to the buying and selling of sex were down 22 per cent as the vice trade continued its move indoors and out of sight.

So the actual rise in sexual assaults and rapes was even higher than headline figures suggest.

The number of recorded rapes was up 5 per cent to 1,797. Two out of five such crimes, however, are "historic" - which means the crime took place more than a year before it was reported. This is usually referred to as a the "Jimmy Savile effect" as victims feel freer to come forward to describe offences that took place years ago.

The overall reduction in total recorded crime was 4.7 per cent.

Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone, Crime and Operational Support, said: 

"Over the past two years, we have significantly enhanced our whole approach to investigating the most serious of crimes including murder, rape and domestic abuse.

"Through the introduction of Major Investigation Teams, Rape and Domestic Abuse Taskforces and divisional investigation units, we have seen national specialist support being provided to local policing teams to ensure our response is as effective and responsive as possible.

"Our focus is on keeping people safe. From the most violent crime which happens less frequently, to higher volume crime such as housebreaking and incidents of disorder and anti-social behaviour which impact on community well-being, Police Scotland is committed to both the prevention and detection of crime.

"Public confidence and user satisfaction in the service remains high, which is welcome, given the way policing has evolved over the past two years since the introduction of a single service.

"We are making significant in-roads in the disruption of serious organised crime in Scotland, through a different style of approach built upon collaboration and smarter working.

"Sadly we have seen an increase in the number of people who have died on our roads. We continue to take every effort to reduce casualties on the roads in Scotland."

Police Scotland stress that their performance statistics have still to become official. That only happens when they have been checked and republished by the Scottish Government later this summer