This report collates the most up to date, robust statistical sources on non-sexual violence in Scotland. It presents findings on the magnitude, scope and characteristics of non-sexual violence in Scotland, helping to answer the question ‘what is the problem?’ posed in Step 1 of the public health approach to reducing violence.
It finds that, currently in Scotland, most violence is carried out by males, occurs in a public space and is not reported to the police. Violence is also now less patterned in terms of age and gender than a decade ago. For example, there is no difference between those aged 16 to 24 years old and those aged 25 to 44 years old in their chances of being a victim of violent crime, and also no difference in the proportion of males or females who experience non-sexual violence. However, gender has an impact on the way violence is experienced and women are much more likely than men to have experienced Partner abuse.
A new statutory offence of Domestic abuse was introduced on the 1st April 2019, targeting those who engage in coercive or controlling behaviour towards their partners or ex-partners. Scottish Government statisticians will undertake a study into the characteristics of this new offence, and how it was used during its first year of operation - based on a review of crime records. This is expected to be published in the autumn of 2020.
Over the past decade there has been a notable reduction in non-sexual violence in the general adult population, driven by decreases in the years following 2008-09 with broad stability seen more recently. This is largely attributable to a reduction in younger males’ involvement in violent crime (as victims and perpetrators) - with no equivalent change in the proportion of females who experienced violence. There has also been a decrease in the proportion of violent incidents where a weapon is used, compared to a decade ago.
While most people in Scotland do not experience any form of violent crime, the likelihood of experiencing violence is higher in deprived communities. Moreover, the likelihood of experiencing violence for people who live in the 15% most deprived neighbourhoods has not shown any reduction since 2008-09, whilst the victimisation rate has fallen for people living in the rest of Scotland.
Existing evidence also shows that violent crime is disproportionately suffered by repeat victims. There are limitations to what existing statistical data and research can reveal about repeat violent victimisation in Scotland, and so alternative approaches are needed to develop the evidence base and inform policy responses. The Scottish Government published a rapid evidence review on repeat violent victimisation in April 2019, and are currently commissioning an exploratory study to better understand repeat violent victimisation in Scotland. This study, which will commence in Autumn 2019, will principally include people who; live in areas of high deprivation where there are also high levels of violent crime; who experience multiple exclusion and who have current convictions and those who have desisted from crime. The research is intended to inform effective, appropriate and proportionate policy responses, as well as service responses to support victims, tailored to the needs of those who experience the highest levels of violent victimisation in Scottish society.
Further work is planned and underway to further enhance our understanding of violent crime, including and complementing this report, in September 2019, the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research also published a report ‘Taking Stock of Violence in Scotland’ which consolidates existing research knowledge about violence in Scotland, bringing together relevant information about the state of violence and violence research in Scotland, to inform future research priorities.
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