EDINBURGH is renowned as the dark heart of “Tartan Noir” where literary detectives such as John Rebus are left under siege by a string of grisly slayings.
But his real-life counterparts have not been left struggling with similar caseloads after the murder rate in the Capital dropped to just two in the last year.
It is thought to be among the lowest levels recorded for the Capital in modern times, and comes just two years after 11 homicides were recorded in the city.
In comparison, Glasgow had 15 murders in 2011-12, although that represented a huge drop from the 40 cases recorded in 2002-3.
Police chiefs today welcomed the fall and cited violence prevention work and an anti-knife campaign as factors behind the drop-off.
Officers pledged they would not be “resting on their laurels”, with new measures in place under Police Scotland aimed at continuing the trend.
Criminologists said the low murder rate was part of a 20-year pattern of falling crime, but work on raising awareness on the dangers of alcohol and weapons had probably had an impact.
Last year, five murders were investigated by police in Edinburgh compared with 11 for 2010-11 and six for the year before that.
The pattern was repeated across the Lothians, where the murder total was four, the other two killings taking place in West Lothian. Eight were recorded in the previous year with 17 in 2010-11 and ten for 2009-10.
Detective Superintendent Gareth Blair, from Edinburgh Division, said: “Through the Edinburgh Violence Reduction Programme we worked with partners in social work, health and education to maximise this effort.
“The No Knives Betters Lives campaign had a great deal of resources directed into it, and that work in schools and highlighting the dangers of knives has reduced weapon-carrying and potentially homicides.
“The Serious Organised Crime Unit has dismantled a number of organised crime groups whose activities may also have led to homicides. Operation Arable, tackling street violence and serious assaults, reduced the potential for homicides.”
Det Supt Blair said the launch in Edinburgh of an Alcohol and Violence Reduction Unit and Domestic Abuse Investigation Unit under Police Scotland would strive to build on this success.
He said: “We’re committed to keeping people safe and not resting on our laurels. Two murders is still two too many.
“A high percentage of murders are domestic-related. We’ve always worked to support victims, but the new unit will be able to focus more on targeting offenders to break the cycle of domestic violence.”
Half of all female murder victims in the country were killed by partners or ex-partners, according to Scottish Government statistics from last year.
Edinburgh University criminologist Professor Susan McVie said: “The drop in murders would seem to be part of a bigger trend of falling crime rates which have taken place in the past 20 years. There’s been a reduction in violence, particularly serious violent crime, although not so much at the lower level.
“Some of the high-profile campaigns over the dangers of alcohol could have had a beneficial effect but it’s interesting that this drop in Edinburgh has come before the introduction of minimum pricing.”