Homicide in Scotland 2020-2021: statistics

Statistical bulletin on crimes of homicide recorded by the police in Scotland in 2020-2021.

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Key Points

  • Between 2019-20 and 2020-21, the number of homicide cases recorded by the police in Scotland decreased by 15% (or 10 cases) from 65 to 55 (Table 1). This is the lowest number of recorded homicide cases since comparable records began in 1976.
  • The number of homicide cases in Scotland remained relatively stable during 2012-13 to 2019-20, with between 59 and 65 cases recorded each year. The decrease of 10 cases in 2020-21 is the largest one-year change since 2012-13.
  • The nationwide lockdowns and other measures put in place to limit social contact during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic may have had an impact on the number of homicide cases. However, some caution is advised in assessing this, as the volume of cases recorded in 2020-21 is not substantially different to some earlier years (such as 59 in 2017-18)
  • Over the 10 year period from 2011-12 to 2020-21, the number of homicide cases in Scotland fell by 40% (36 cases) from 91 to 55 (Table 1). Glasgow City accounted for about a fifth (22%) of this decrease. In 2020-21, 8 of the 55 national recorded homicide cases occurred within Glasgow City (Table 2).
  • In 2020-21, 58 victims of homicide were recorded, 12% (eight victims) fewer than the 66 victims recorded in 2019-20 (Table 1). Of the 58 victims, 83% (48) were male (Table 5).
  • In 2020-21, 65 persons were accused of homicide and 92% (60) of them were male (Table 6). All of the 55 cases of homicide recorded for 2020-21 were solved.
  • For each of the last 10 years, the most common method of killing was with a sharp instrument (Table 7). In 2020-21, a sharp instrument was the main method of killing for 59% (34) of homicide victims.
The number of homicides have fallen over the past ten years. In 2020-21 most victims were killed by a sharp instrument, most often a knife, and in a residential location. Males are most likely to be killed by an acquaintance, and female victims were killed by a partner or ex-partner in 30% of cases in 2020-21. The median age of victims in 2020-21 was 33, whereas the median age of accused was 31.


Email: Justice_Analysts@gov.scot

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