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Crime

We live our lives safe from crime, disorder and danger

CrimeWhy is this National Outcome important?

Communities can only flourish when people feel safe - from crime, antisocial behaviour and from the threat of major incidents. Bad things do happen, so we must be as prepared as possible to deal with them.

Crime causes damage - be that physical, economic or social. The damage caused to each individual and to the wider community by crime is unacceptable as crime causes fear - which reduces confidence and resilience in communities. We all have the right to live our lives free from that fear. In recent years, there has been a downward trend in the levels of recorded crime, cumulating in a ten per cent drop within the past year taking the figure to a new 32-year low. Similarly, the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2009/10 estimated that there were ten per cent fewer crimes in Scotland compared with the 2008/09 survey. The survey also reported that most adults (71 per cent) thought that the crime rate in their local area had stayed the same or reduced in the past two years. By tackling crime we improve the lives of offenders, their families and the communities in which they live. We can turn lives around - to make a positive contribution. By reducing the fear of crime and antisocial behaviour we help build strong, resilient communities, in which people can thrive and reach their potential.

Dealing with criminals effectively is crucial. While clear-up rates for crime are at an all-time high we must understand why people commit crimes in the first place. We will only build a safer and stronger Scotland by tackling the root causes - deep-seated issues such as Scotland's relationship with drink, drugs, violence and deprivation. We must understand why people commit crime and what we can do to prevent it. Why do so many of those in prison come from our most deprived communities? We want all of Scotland's people to be able to realise their aspirations, playing a positive role in a community that they feel a genuine part of. And we want all of Scotland's people to understand that getting involved in crime or behaviour that leads to crime is unacceptable.

In addition to the dangers posed by criminals we need to be able to deal swiftly and effectively with major incidents - be that fire, flooding or terrorism. We need to have confidence in those who will respond to those incidents, so that we can continue to live our lives and plan for the future.

What will influence this National Outcome?

A wide range of agencies are involved in ensuring that the criminal justice system operates effectively. The police, prosecutors and courts are involved in the detection and prosecution of crime. Speedy and effective enforcement can deter reoffending. A strong and well-targeted police presence can also reduce the fear of crime. Where someone has been found guilty our prisons and those managing community penalties must deliver effective punishment - which prevents reoffending. Low level offending and antisocial behaviour must be swiftly and effectively dealt with - as they have a corrosive effect on communities. And there needs to be a distinct approach to tackling serious and organised crime - recognising its complexity and meeting that with an effective response.

Tackling the underlying causes of crime calls for a broader and longer term approach - addressing the challenges of drink, drugs and deprivation that blight parts of Scotland. We know that some children are at greater risk of becoming offenders because of the circumstances into which they are born. These risks can be reduced by effective intervention, equipping young people to make good choices and offering positive alternatives to offending. These need to be alternatives which will create a sustainable, more cohesive society where everyone can take advantage of the opportunities available and enjoy a better quality of life.

Our capacity to deal with emergencies (most recently underlined by the response to incidents at Glasgow Airport in 2007) must continually become more flexible, so that it can respond to the unimaginable as well as to the day-to-day.

What is the Government's role?

We will lead efforts to create a safer, stronger Scotland, working with a range of partners to ensure that enforcement is effective while seeking to address the deeper, underlying causes of crime and disorder.

To do this, we have invested to ensure that there are 1,000 additional police officers in Scotland. On 31 December 2010 statistics showed that there were 17,217 officers in Scotland, compared to the 16,234 officers when the Scottish Government came to power. This provides an effective and visible police presence which is helping tackle offending and reducing the fear of crime.

We are committed to coming down hard on serious and organised crime and we have established the Serious and Organised Crime Taskforce to ensure all key law enforcement agencies are working together on this. We have used seized criminal assets to benefit communities through our innovative 'Cashback for Communities' initiative, investing over £41 million in a range of projects for young people which has seen over 500,000 young people taking part in CashBack activities.

We are working to ensure that the systems we have in place for dealing with offenders are as effective as they can be, continuing with reforms to speed up the criminal justice system, improving the way it processes cases and ensuring that justice is swift for both offenders and victims.

We are investing record resources in replacing and modernising prisons, with £21 million on the new prison in Grampian to replace the prisons at Peterhead and Aberdeen, a new prison at Bishopbriggs and the replacement of prisons and facilities which are unfit for purpose. But we recognise that prison is not always the answer, and we have introduced in the Criminal Justice & Licensing Act a presumption against prison sentences of less that three months and to establish The Community Payback Order (a new community sentence) to enable offenders to pay back to communities. We are driving forward the delivery of our new offender management strategy, tackling the rising prisoner populations and working towards ending the current system of arbitrary, sometimes unconditional early release.

We are committed to driving forward reforms and initiatives to prevent offending and reoffending - focusing especially on early intervention, providing opportunities for young people and keeping them out of prison.

This Government is looking hard at what needs to be done to tackle the underlying causes of crime - we have invested £32 million to support the delivery of the national drugs strategy which signals a new phase in our society's efforts to reduce drug use. We have set up a new Drugs Strategy Delivery Commission (DSDC), with an independent Chair, to draw on expert views and oversee the successful implementation of the drugs strategy. We are continuing to work with the national Violence Reduction Unit having committed funding up to March 2012, with £934,000 funding in 2011-12, to find long-lasting solutions to violent crime and continue work on tackling violence against women, domestic abuse and improving services for victims. We have passed the Alcohol etc. (Scotland) Act 2010 which will prevent irresponsible promotions in the off-trade sector and have introduced a power to ensure those who profit from the sale of alcohol contribute to some of the costs of dealing with the consequences of alcohol misuse.

Through the development of our early years framework we will focus on strengthening prevention, early intervention and effective multi-agency responses to children and young people who offend, or are at risk of offending. And through the development of 'Scottish Resilience' we will bring together professionals from central and local government, and health and emergency services to provide practical advice and support on emergency planning.

Related Strategic Objectives

Safer and Stronger

Wealthier and Fairer

Crime