MORE than three-quarters of murders were committed under the influence of alcohol or drugs last year, according to new statistics which show homicides increased by a fifth.

There were almost 100 murders in Scotland last year, up 19% from the 78 cases in 2009-10 when the rate reached its lowest point in 11 years.

Some 79% of perpetrators were under the influence of alcohol or drugs compared with just 49% the previous year.

Detective Chief Superintendent John Carnochan, co-director of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, said: "The connection with alcohol is profound. After being a cop for 37 years I am fed up with people suggesting there is no direct causal link between alcohol and violence.

"Minimum pricing is a good step but we need to do more.

"I am so disappointed in the figures, especially when violent crime is down generally. I am not trying to absolve myself of responsibility. The numbers are too big and the consequences too terrible. Overall I think the trend is downward, though.

"There has also been a shift from murders taking place on the street to indoors and that has made it more difficult to police.

"This is not just about policing. To address this we need to work far more broadly than that."

The 95 cases resulted in the death of 97 victims. Of those, 77 were male. A total of 138 people were accused of homicide, 80% of whom were male.

Almost two-thirds of victims were killed by a sharp instrument or blade.

The homicide figures cover murder and culpable homicide.

On average, victims were most likely to have been killed in their home or at the home of someone they knew, and by someone who was known to them. The Strathclyde Police area accounted for almost two-thirds of all homicide cases recorded in 2010-11.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: "I take these figures very seriously and this Government will continue to work tirelessly to make Scotland a safer place.

"These senseless acts are usually carried out by men, under the influence of cheap booze and drugs.

"Police cannot patrol every home and every doorstep but we can take steps to stop these dreadful crimes taking place."

He added: "We will not shirk from taking tough action on alcohol abuse and we cannot allow this mindless violence, which has devastating consequences for families and communities across Scotland, to continue.

"The figures also show the vast majority of killings involving knives are carried out indoors by perpetrators under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and not on our streets.

"Tackling knife crime is an absolute priority for this Government, and Scotland's prosecutors and courts have my backing in using the full force of the law to punish anyone who carries or uses a knife."

Strathclyde Police force area saw the most homicides, with 61 cases, including 26 in the Glasgow city area.

Earlier this year Charlene Wilson, 25, was convicted of the culpable homicide of Gail Russell. The 26-year-old mother-of-four bled to death after the attack in Blantyre in June 2010.

She was stabbed after an argument at a barbeque where a group of about eight people had spent the evening drinking.