Police Scotland must tackle violent crime as top priority, most Scots believe

Most Scots want police officers to tackle violent crime as a top priority, a poll has been found.

A survey by pollsters Survation found 52 per cent of respondents listed knife crime as one of the most important issues that police should prioritize.

It was followed by child abuse inquiries and investigating sexual offences, both on 39 per cent, while 24 per cent said antisocial behavior and 23 per cent listed ‘drug and crime enforcement’.

The findings – first published by justice affairs magazine 1919 – have sparked calls for the Scottish Government to ramp up its efforts to clamp down on violent offenders.

The poll, which asked respondents to pick up to three options, found only three per cent want officers to focus on policing large events.

Just over one in 10 listed hate crimes and 14 per cent said online fraud should be a priority.

Scottish Government figures show that in January non-sexual crimes of violence were 17 per cent higher than in the same month in 2021, and seven per cent higher when compared to January 2020 before the Covid pandemic hit.

Opposition parties warned the rise was “extremely concerning”, and called for more funding and resources to be made available to Police Scotland

Labour’s justice spokeswoman Pauline McNeill said: “The statistics are clear – our police service needs all the support it can get to tackle violent crime of all kinds.

“It is down to the justice ministers to do all that they can to ensure Scotland’s hard working police officers have the resources and support that they need to do their job.”

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Assistant Chief Constable Steve Johnson said: “Scotland is still a very safe place to live, work and visit.

“It remains a fact that most of us will not directly experience crime from one year to the next and that is a reality we work hard to preserve.

“Across most types of violent crime, a significant number of victims are repeat victims and Police Scotland is focused and dedicated to supporting them, with our partners, and bringing perpetrators to justice.

“We remain fully committed to keeping our communities safe and one way of doing so is by removing illicit and harmful items, particularly knives, from a small number of people intent on causing harm.

“I understand that we still have much to do to influence the behaviors of those determined on carrying knives but it is not exclusively the role of police to do so.

“This is why we are working with our partners in education and health and will continue in our collaborative efforts to achieve that.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Recorded crime remains at one of the lowest levels since 1974 and is down 41 per cent since 2006/07 and homicide levels are at their lowest level since 1976.

“Over the long term, we have seen a significant reduction of police recorded non-sexual violent crime of 36 per cent between 2006/07 and 2020/21.

“Despite UK Government austerity we have increased police funding year-on-year since 2016/17, and have invested more than £10 billion in policing since the creation of Police Scotland in 2013.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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