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Fall in Reported Offensive Weapon-Related Crime

There has been a fall in the number of crimes involving the handling of offensive weapons over the last ten years in Scotland, according to a new report from the Scottish Government. 

Under the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995, a person in possession of an offensive weapon whilst in a public place, school or prison, without reasonable excuse or lawful authority, is guilty of a crime.

Key Research Findings

The report, Recorded Crime in Scotland: Handling Offensive Weapons, contains the findings of new research examining the characteristics of a sample of these weapons-based crimes recorded by the police under the Act.

Key findings contained within the report include:

  • The overwhelming majority of police recorded crimes for handling an offensive weapon in a public setting were committed by males (89%). The median age of a perpetrator was 29 years old when the weapon wasn’t used in other criminal activity. When the weapon was used in other criminal activity the median age was 27.
  • Almost a fifth (17%) of all victims were teenagers (i.e. aged between 13 and 19). Over a quarter (26%) were aged between 20 and 29, with a further 24% aged between 30 and 39 and 30% aged 40 or over.
  • Three-quarters of criminal acts involving the use of a weapon in a public setting had a male victim (75%). In 70% of all cases both the perpetrator and victim were male.
  • Perpetrators and victims were more likely than not to know each other (59% known compared to 41% not known). They were both more likely than average to live in urban areas and areas of higher deprivation.
  • The most common criminal act committed with a weapon in a public setting was threatening or abusive behaviour (44%), followed by common assault (32%) and serious assault (14%). Threatening or abusive behaviour was more likely to occur and serious assault less likely to occur when the victim was female, compared to male victims.
  • The majority of criminal acts committed with a weapon against a person in a public setting involved no physical injury to the victim (71%). This proportion was slightly higher when the weapon was a bladed or pointed article like a knife (74%).
  • In 29% of cases the victim of a weapon-based crime in a public setting sustained some degree of physical injury (including 26% of cases where the weapon was a bladed or pointed article and 31% for other offensive weapons).
  • When bladed or pointed articles were used against other people in a public setting, they caused a serious assault level injury in 21% of cases (such as stab wounds or other permanent disfigurement).

Reducing the Incidence of Knife Crime

“The world has taken notice of Scotland’s success in dealing with violent crime, in particular the work of our ground-breaking Violence Reduction Unit,” commented then Justice Secretary Michael Matheson. “We also continue to fund No Knives, Better Lives which aims to reduce the incidence of violence and knife carrying among young people.”

“The trends in today’s report strongly suggest that we are making inroads in tackling this very serious issue,” he added. “However, one violent incident is still one to many and we are determined to make further progress.”

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Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

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