According to data on the number of homicide offences documented in Scotland from 2002/03 to 2019/20, there were 64 homicides recorded in 2019/20, four higher than the previous reporting year. In Scotland, there has been a net decrease of 59 murders compared to 2002/03. The number of people killed in 2004 was estimated to be between 15 and 19. This is within the range reported by the police services across the country.
The murder rate in Scotland has fallen over the past decade. In 2004, there were approximately one murder per 100,000 people, which reduced to below one murder per 100,000 people in 2009.
However, more recent figures have shown an increase in murders again. In 2019/20, there were 64 homicides recorded, which is equivalent to one murder every other day. This is four more than the previous reporting year but still less than 2004's total of 68.
There have been no murders reported in Scotland since 2016. However, two men have been convicted of murdering Fiona McGibbon in 2003 after she rejected their advances. They are serving life sentences.
In addition to the murders, several other people lost their lives due to suicide in Scotland during 2004. The exact number is unknown as not all suicides result in a crime being committed. Reported suicides ranged from one person who took their own life in Glasgow to three others in Edinburgh.
Between 2018-19 and 2019-20, the number of homicide cases registered by police in Scotland grew by 3% (or two cases), from 62 to 64. Since 1976, the first year for which comparable data is available, this is one of the lowest numbers of documented homicide cases for a single twelve-month period.
The majority of people who die as a result of a homicide have a record of criminal activity but no previous convictions. The most common crime scene finding is that of "stranger-on-stranger" violence, where two people know each other but do not know each other's identities. This type of murder accounts for about 70% of all homicide cases in Scotland.
About 25% of homicides are related to family disputes or arguments, usually over money. About 5% of homicides are due to political reasons (for example, taking revenge for past crimes). About 1% of homicides are caused by work-related issues. The remaining 2% or less of homicides are due to other reasons such as personal issues between friends or acquaintances, or even accidental deaths.
Of the 64 homicide cases reported in Scotland in 2019, it is estimated that half were committed with a weapon, and half were not. Of those that used a weapon, guns were involved in 37 cases, knives in 14 cases, and other instruments such as bats, pipes, and forks were also used.
How many homicides occur in the United Kingdom? In 2019/20, there were 809 homicides registered in the United Kingdom, a rise of 40 over the previous reporting year, when there were 769 killings. The number of killings in the UK fell by half between 2002/03 and 2013/14, from over 1.2 thousand to just over 600. However, since then the figure has started to rise again.
Killings are recorded by police departments at national and local levels. Each case is reviewed by a prosecutor who may decide that no charge should be brought against any person involved in the homicide.
The crime rate in the UK is falling but the number of homicides has risen in recent years. There are several factors that may be influencing this including more people living longer, more young people being born, and improved medical care reducing mortality rates from injuries. There have been fewer incidents of violence between people who know each other which has reduced significantly over time. Instead, more often now, these attacks happen between strangers who meet online or through other means such as social services or prison systems.
In 2016, there were almost twice as many women as men killed in the UK. Women make up about 9 out of 10 victims of homicide across Europe so this is not unique to the UK. However, what is unusual is that there was only one male victim of homicide in four cases. The only possible explanation for this is that the perpetrators knew them personally and therefore targeted them instead of someone else.