Publication - Statistics

Homicide in Scotland, 2013-14

Published: 9 Dec 2014
Part of:
Statistics
ISBN:
9781785440175

Statistical bulletin on crimes of homicide recorded by the police in Scotland in 2013-14

44 page PDF

437.9 kB

44 page PDF

437.9 kB

Contents
Homicide in Scotland, 2013-14
4. Commentary

44 page PDF

437.9 kB

4. Commentary

4.1 Homicide cases (Tables 1, 2, 3 and 4, and Charts 1, 2 and 3)

  • In 2013-14, the police in Scotland recorded 60 cases of homicide, a slight decrease (-5%) from the 63 cases recorded in 2012-13. This is the lowest number of cases recorded in the ten-year period covered by this bulletin. As at 9 December 2014, no cases of homicide recorded in 2013-14 were unsolved.
  • Homicide cases involving more than one victim remain rare. There was one case involving two victims in 2013-14. In total, there were only ten homicide cases involving multiple victims between 2004-05 and 2013-14. Of the 60 homicide cases recorded in 2013-14, 23% of them involved more than one accused person. There was a total of 88 accused persons connected with the 60 recorded homicide cases.
  • Table 2 shows the number of homicide cases in each local authority between 2004-05 and 2013-14. In 2013-14, Glasgow City local authority had the highest number of homicide cases (18). While it is important to note victims may not necessarily reside in the local authority where the homicide took place, Glasgow City has the highest proportion of all homicide cases (30% of the Scottish total in 2013-14), which is more than three times higher its share of the population (9% of the Scottish population in 2013-14). However, Glasgow City has also witnessed the largest fall in the number of cases, more than halving from a ten-year high in 2004-05.
  • In 2013-14, the most common location for homicides to occur was within a dwelling (63% of all cases) followed by a street or footpath (17% of all cases). In total, 72% of homicides occurred within a residential location, 22% in outdoor public places and 5% in indoor public places. Chart 2 shows the distribution of homicide cases by location between 2004-05 and 2013-14. Both the number of homicide cases in residential locations and public places have fallen since the start of the ten-year period covered by this bulletin. However, the proportion of homicide cases occurring in residential areas has increased by an average of 1.5 percentage points per year since 2004-05, and the number of homicide cases occurring in outdoor public places decreased by an average of 1.7 percentage points per year.

Chart 2: Location of homicide cases, where known, Scotland, 2004-05 to 2013-14

Chart 2

  • Homicide cases recorded by the police make up only a very small proportion of all violent crimes, making up around 0.1% of the selected crimes of violence and common assault reported in Table 4 in 2013-14. This has remained the same over the ten year period covered by this bulletin. It can be seen from Chart 3 that the number of recorded homicides by the police has continued to follow a downward trend over the ten year period from 2004-05 to 2013-14. A similar trend has also been seen for the number of recorded attempted murders and recorded serious assaults. For further information on crimes of violence and common assault please see Note 5.14.

Chart 3: Trends in selected crimes of violence1, Scotland, 2004-05 to 2013-14 (Index 2004-05 = 100)

Chart 3

1. The homicide figures provided in this chart are taken from aggregate crime statistics recorded by the police. Due to slight differences in the timing and methods of collection, the aggregated recorded crime figures for homicide may differ slightly from the figures given elsewhere in this bulletin, which are derived from individual returns made in respect of each homicide. For further information on the homicide figures included in this chart please see Note 5.14.

4.2 Victims of homicide (Table 5 and Charts 4 and 5)

  • In total, there were 61 victims in the 60 homicide cases recorded in 2013-14, two fewer victims than in 2012-13. This represented a rate of 11 victims per million population in Scotland. This is the lowest rate of victims per million population in Scotland in the ten year period covered by this bulletin. The next lowest rate was 12 victims per million population in Scotland reported in 2012-13.
  • Chart 4 shows that, although only 29% of the Scottish population across 2004-05 and 2013-14 were aged 31 to 50 years, 43% of all homicide victims were in this age range. In addition, the percentage of homicide victims in the 21 to 30 year age range was greater than the relative percentage of the population by 10 percentage points, and the percentage of homicide victims in the 16 to 20 age range was greater than the relative percentage of the population by four percentage points, between 2004-05 and 2013-14. It can also be seen that the percentage of homicide victims in the older age ranges, 51 years and over, constituted only 18% of all victims in the period 2004-05 to 2013-14 compared to the 35% of the population these age ranges constituted.

Chart 4: Age profile of homicide victims compared to population1 profile, Scotland, 2004-05 to 2013-14

Chart 4

1. Population estimates as at mid-year 2004 to 2013 from the National Records of Scotland. (http://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/statistics-and-data/statistics/statistics-by-theme/population/population-estimates/mid-year-population-estimates)

  • In 2013-14, there were 46 male victims, 75% of all homicide victims. The overall homicide rate for males was 18 victims per million population, over three times the rate for females which was five victims per million population. For each age range, where both figures are greater than zero, the homicide rate per million population was greater for males than females in 2013-14.
  • The highest homicide rates recorded in 2013-14 for males were in the 21 to 30 and the 31 to 50 year age groups, at 42 and 27 victims per million population respectively. The highest rate for females was in the 31 to 50 year age range, at 12 per million population.
  • From Chart 5 it can be seen that, cumulatively, over the ten year period from 2004-05 to 2013-14 in all age categories, with the exception of the 71 and over age range, the homicide rate was higher for males than females. For males the highest rate of homicide victims per population was for the age range 21 to 30 years. For this age range as well as the two surrounding age ranges, 16 to 20 years and 31 to 50 years, the per population rates were considerably higher for males than females.

Chart 5: Homicide victims per million population1 by age and gender, Scotland, 2004-05 to 2013-14

Chart 5

1. Population estimates as at mid-year 2004 to 2013 from the National Records of Scotland. (http://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/statistics-and-data/statistics/statistics-by-theme/population/population-estimates/mid-year-population-estimates)

4.3 Persons accused of homicide (Table 6 and Chart 6)

  • In the 60 homicide cases recorded in 2013-14, 88 persons have been accused as at 9 December 2014, three more than in 2012-13. The vast majority of accused persons, in each year in the series, have been male. In fact, the proportion of the accused that are male has never fallen below 80% for the last ten years and was 84% in 2013-14.
  • In 2013-14, the total number of individuals accused of homicide equated to 17 per million population. This is a slight increase on the ten-year low of 16 per million population in 2012-13.
  • The rate of accused males was highest for the 21 to 30 age group, at 81 per million population, followed by males aged 16 to 20 years, at 48 per million population. For females, the 21 to 30 age group at the highest rate of accused people, at 19 per million population.
  • Chart 6 shows that amongst all age categories the rates of males accused of homicide per million population were considerably higher than for females in the period from 2004-05 to 2013-14. During this period, more males in three age groups respectively (16 to 20, 21 to 30 and 31-50) were accused of homicide than the total number of females accused of homicide (i.e. across all age categories).

Chart 6: Person accused of homicide per million population1 by age and gender, Scotland, 2004-2005 to 2013-14

Chart 6

1. Population estimates as at mid-year 2004 to 2013 from the National Records of Scotland. (http://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/statistics-and-data/statistics/statistics-by-theme/population/population-estimates/mid-year-population-estimates)

4.4 Method (Table 7 and Charts 7 and 8)

  • From Chart 7 it can be seen that the most common main method of killing in each of the last ten years was with a sharp instrument. Of those reported to be killed with a sharp instrument, a knife was predominantly used (78%). For the definition of a sharp instrument please see Note 5.10. Shooting was the main method of killing in a consistently small number of homicides over the period from 2004-05 to 2013-14.
  • In 2013-14, a sharp instrument was the main method of killing for 23 (38%) of all homicide victims (and for 46% of victims where the method of killing was known). This accounts for over twice as many homicides as the next most common main method of killing, which in 2013-14 was hitting and kicking. The distribution of the main methods of killing in 2013-14 can be seen in Chart 8.
  • Sharp instruments were the most common main method of killing for male victims. Throughout the ten-year period this has been true for females. However, for 2013-14 the main method of killing was unknown for six homicide victims (or 40% of all female victims) as at 9 December 2014. For the nine victims where the main method of killing was known, three victims were killed with a sharp instrument.

Chart 7: Victims of homicide by main method of killing, Scotland, 2004-05 to 2013-14

Chart 7

1. The poisoning etc. category includes the following main methods of killing: strangulation or asphyxiation, drowning, fire, and poisoning.

Chart 8: Victims of homicide by main method of killing, Scotland, 2013-14

Chart 8

4.5 Relationship of main accused to victim (Tables 8, 9, 10, and 11 and Charts 9 and 10)

  • For 43 (70%) homicide victims in 2013-14, the victim and main accused were known to each other. The victim and accused were not known to each other in nine cases (15%) and in a further nine cases (15%) the relationship status between the victim and accused was unknown. Of those cases where the victim and accused were known to each other, 37% were friends or social acquaintances and 21% were partners or ex-partners.
  • Chart 9 presents the trends over the last ten years in the percentage of homicides for male and female victims by their relationship to the main accused. The highest percentage of male victims was consistently those killed by an acquaintance. For female victims the largest percentage was almost always killed by a partner or ex-partner. There are greater fluctuations in the percentage of the relationships of the accused to female victims due to the smaller number of female victims compared to male victims.
  • A total of 48 children under the age of 16 years were victims of homicide between 2004-05 and 2013-14. Of these, 60% were killed by one of their parents. For the 16 victims aged under one year old, where there was an accused person, the main accused was nearly always (88%) a parent.
  • For all homicides recorded in the last ten years, just over half (52%) of the female victims aged between 16 and 70 years were killed by their partner or ex-partner, 27% were killed by an acquaintance and 9% were killed by a stranger. For male victims aged 16 to 70 years, only 7% were killed by their partner or ex-partner. Just under two thirds (64%) of male victims aged 16 to 70 years were killed by an acquaintance and 16% were killed by a stranger.
  • Of the 26 people aged over 70 who were victims of homicide in the ten year period covered by this bulletin, 18 were female and eight were male. Older people were most likely to be killed by either their son or daughter (seven victims) or an acquaintance (six victims). Of the seven victims killed by their son or daughter, six were female.
  • The majority of all solved homicide cases (68%) recorded between 2004-05 and 2013-14 involved males killing males. Cases where the main accused and main victim were both female accounted for just 3% of the total number of homicide cases recorded in this period.

Chart 9: Victims of homicide by gender and relationship to main accused, where relationship known, Scotland, 2004-05 to 2013-14

Chart 9

  • Chart 10 shows a breakdown of the relationship, where the relationship is known, between the main accused and victim. In over two thirds of cases (70%) where a male was accused of killing another male, the victim and accused were acquaintances. Around half of females accused of killing another female were acquaintances. In 43% of cases where a female was accused of killing a male, the accused and victim were partners or ex-partners. This was also the relationship in just over half (54%) of cases where a male was accused of killing a female.

Chart 10: Relationship between main accused and victim, where relationship known, Scotland, 2004-05 to 2013-14

Chart 10

4.6 Main motive (Tables 12, 13 and 14)

  • The most common reasons recorded for committing homicide in the ten year period between 2004-05 and 2013-14, were fight or quarrel, and rage or fury, with just under half (47%) of all victims killed in such circumstances. In 2013-14, this figure was 30 victims (49%), with 22 for whom the main motive was fight or quarrel.
  • In 2013-14, the main motive in the killing of 41% of male victims was fight or quarrel. The next most common known motives for killing male victims was rage or fury accounting for 24% of male victims. Due to the small number of female victims of homicide in 2013-14, there is no clear discernible pattern in the main motives of these homicides.
  • In the period 2004-05 to 2013-14, 77% of all female victims were killed in dwellings, compared with 53% of males. The most common set of circumstances in which females become victims of homicide are in a dwelling, in a rage or fight with a partner or ex-partner (18% of female victims in solved cases). Location is less of a factor for male victims, whose killings are more typically a result of a rage or fight with an acquaintance (35% of all male victims in solved cases).
  • Five victims were reported to have been killed in drug-related homicide cases in 2013-14. Four of the five victims were male. None of the homicides recorded in 2013-14 was reported to have had a homophobic or racial motivation. In all homicide cases over the entire reporting period of this bulletin, 3% of all homicide cases had a homophobic or racist motivation, and for 6% of cases the motivation was unknown.

4.7 Alcohol and drug status (Tables 15, 16, and 17, and Chart 11)

  • More than half (52%) of the total of 88 persons accused in homicide cases in 2013-14 were reported to have been under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs at the time of the homicide. Of these 88, 37 (42%) were under the influence of alcohol, 2 (2%) were under the influence of drugs, and 7 (8%) were both. This represents 74% of accused persons for whom the alcohol and drug status was known.
  • In 2013-14, the alcohol and drug status of the accused was unknown for 26 persons, 30% of the total number of accused. This was a decrease of six persons accused of homicide whose alcohol and drug status was unknown in 2012-13. Only 16 accused persons (18%) were reported to have been neither under the influence of alcohol nor drugs at the time of the homicide. The distribution of the alcohol and drug status of persons accused in homicide cases in 2013-14 can be seen in Chart 11.
  • In the ten year period between 2004-05 and 2013-14, half (50%) of all accused were reported to have been under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs at the time of the homicide. For males accused it was also half (50%), but for females it was marginally higher at 54%. The pattern across all age groups suggest that for the accused over 16 years of age, the proportion of the accused under the influence of drugs and alcohol falls with age (e.g., 53% of accused aged between 16 to 20 years, falling to 43% for those aged 51 and over). This pattern, though, is driven by the alcohol and drug status of accused men as opposed to accused females.

Chart 11: Alcohol and drug status of homicide accused, Scotland, 2013-14

Chart 11

  • In 2013-14, over four fifths (85%) of cases where the main accused was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, the victim was also known to have been under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Where the main motive for a homicide was a rage or fight, 79% of the main accused, for whom the alcohol and drug status of the accused was known, were under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

4.8 International comparisons of homicide rates

  • A number of international organisations, including Eurostat, have attempted to collate international homicide statistics. It is important to note that there are issues surrounding the comparability of international homicide data. There are different definitions of homicide between countries, although definitions vary less than for some other types of crimes. Furthermore, there are differing points in criminal justice systems at which homicides are recorded, i.e. when the offence is discovered or following further investigation. The Eurostat figures are for completed homicides but, in some countries, the police register any death that cannot immediately be attributed to other causes, as homicide. It may, therefore, be over represented in the statistics.
  • During the production of this bulletin it was found that there is a significant lag in the publication of European homicide rates. The most recent Eurostat publication (http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/crime/publications) covered crime trends up to 2010. This has meant that our traditional comparator source has not changed from last year and is now considered to be out of date. We are now reviewing the choice of comparator data, with a view of providing more relevant comparisons to better benchmark Scotland's homicide statistics in the future.

Contact

Email: Alastair Greig