Scotland

Recorded firearms crime in Scotland falls by 75% in 10 years

Weapons Image copyright Police Scotland
Image caption Air weapons were involved in nearly half of all offences

The number of recorded crimes in Scotland involving firearms has fallen by nearly 75% in 10 years, according to new figures.

Firearms were used in 332 recorded crimes in 2015-16, the lowest figure since records began in 2006-07.

The number of crimes where a person was killed or injured by a firearm fell from 48 in 2014-15 to 35 in 2015-16.

Robberies saw the largest drop in firearms crimes, with 40% fewer in 2015-16 than the year before.

An air weapon was the main firearm in nearly half (48%) of all offences involving a firearm in 2015-16.

The Scottish government said the use of firearms in criminal activity continued to constitute a "small proportion" of all offences recorded by the police in 2015-16.

It featured in 1.8% of homicides (one offence), 1.4% of attempted murders (four offences) and 1.9% of robberies (25 offences).

'Protect communities'

Official figures showed only 0.1% of all serious assaults, all common assaults and all vandalism offences involved the use of a firearm.

New legislation to make it a criminal offence to own an unlicensed air weapon comes into force from 31 December.

Police Scotland said 17,069 weapons had been handed in and 8,320 people had applied for a licence.

The Scottish government has estimated there could be up to 500,000 air weapons in Scotland.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: "Today's figures show excellent progress is being made to tackle the scourge of gun crime in Scotland. I am particularly pleased that the number of people killed or injured by firearms continues to fall.

"One offence involving a firearm is too many and we cannot be complacent. We will continue to work with police and the courts to eradicate gun crime.

"It is encouraging to see air weapons being used in fewer crimes, but they still account for half of the firearms involved in offending.

"Our new air weapons licensing laws, which come into force at the end of this year, will better protect our communities by taking these weapons out of the hands of those who would misuse them."

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