Offending falls but less than half think punishment fits crime

Crime in Scotland has fallen by almost a third but less than half of Scots are confident offenders are being punished appropriately, according to a new survey.

The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2016/17 revealed adults experienced around 712,000 crimes over the period, down 32% from 2008/09, but unchanged since 2014/15.

More than two-thirds (68%) of this was property crime such as vandalism or theft with the remainder violent crime such as assault or robbery.

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Violent crime was also down 27% since 2008/09, but has remained the same since 2014/15.

Just 13% of the population experienced crime in 2016/17, down seven percentage points since 2008/09.

The survey, which is based on interviews with almost 5,600 adults about their experience of crime, found the public was generally fairly confident about the operation of the justice system, with 78% sure it allows for a fair trial.

However, less than half (47%) were confident about its efficiency and just 39% thought appropriate punishments were given to offenders.

A majority (58%) said the police were doing a good or excellent job in their local area, a percentage which has remained unchanged since 2014/15 but has fallen from 61% in 2012/13.

Almost a quarter (23%) thought community relations with the police in their area were poor, and a fifth (21%) believed officers were not dealing with the important issues in their local area.

Victims of crime and those living in the most deprived areas of Scotland were less likely to have confidence in the justice system and to say that the police were doing a good or excellent job.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson pledged continued investment in crime prevention measures and new research, acknowledging the small minority who experience "repeat victimisation" from property and violent crime.

The survey showed that 1.1% of adults suffered violence more than once, accounting for two-thirds of such crime.

Mr Matheson said: "Scotland's firm focus on prevention, responsive policing and local partnerships to help individuals and communities keep themselves safe has had a positive impact on long-term crime trends and people's feeling of safety, with recorded crime at a 43-year low.

"While this progress is cause for encouragement, it will never be an excuse for complacency.

"As well as continued government investment in policing and funding partners such as Neighbourhood Watch Scotland, Crimestoppers and the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, I have commissioned further research into those areas where violence persists.

"A better understanding of the nature and circumstances of violence can help improve how not only the justice system, but wider public services pre-empt and respond to the issue.

"We must keep identifying those areas where we can most effectively focus our collective efforts to achieve the greatest impact, ensuring all our communities benefit from falling crime."