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Stranger murder myth dispelled

HALF of all female victims of homicide are killed by partners or ex-partners, according to new figures experts claim dispel the "stranger danger" myth.

Some 18 girls or women met violent deaths in 2011-12, nine at the hands of somebody with whom they were having – or had had – a relationship. Only one was killed by somebody she did not know, new Scottish Government statistics showed.

Police are increasingly trying to focus on domestic abuse murders as wider figures for homicides fall, along with overall levels of violent crime.

Callum Hendry of White Ribbon Scotland, a group working to tackle domestic abuse, said: "Time and time again the evidence illustrates just how big an issue violence against women is. These statistics show just how much work needs to be done to create a society where women are safe and no men are perpetrators of violence.

"There is often a particular focus on 'stranger danger' however, it is important to highlight that in the majority of domestic violence cases, women are attacked by a current or ex-partner."

Yesterday's statistics included all murders and some culpable homicides but did not reflect homicides as a result of criminal road traffic accidents.

Between 2002-2012, 211 girls and women were homicide victims in a solved case where police could analyse perpetrators. Of those, 92 were killed by a partner or ex. Only 21 were killed by strangers and just one woman in the last decade died in a sex attack in her home.

A total of 840 boys and men were victims of homicide in the same decade. Forty-eight of them died at the hands of partners or exes; 518 by acquaintances and 154 by strangers.

An increasing proportion of murders are now being carried out indoors, by people who know each other and involving drink and a sharp instrument.

Detective Chief Superintendent John Carnochan, co-director of the Violent Reduction Unit, said: "Domestic abuse is a problem for Scotland, and today's homicide stats bear this out. This is why the police, support groups, the justice system and a whole host of others have been, and will continue to be, relentless in pursuing abusers, raising awareness, increasing reporting and lowering tolerance of domestic abuse."

However, Scotland's homicide rate now lags well behind those for the Baltic nations of Lithuania, Estonia and Finland – which have looser gun laws than most European countries.

Glasgow, which had 15 homicide cases last year compared with 40 a decade ago, has firmly lost its unfair tag of "murder capital of Europe".

There were 90 homicide victims in 2011-12, 28% fewer than in 2002-03.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill: "This is no cause for celebration. Ninety lives have been lost. Behind these figures are victims and grieving families."

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