Ten homicides reported in Edinburgh and Lothians last year as drug-related killings remain high across Scotland

Ten homicides were recorded by police in Edinburgh and the Lothians last year, the latest figures have shown.

By Jamie McKenzie
Tuesday, 27th October 2020, 12:37 pm
Updated Tuesday, 27th October 2020, 12:47 pm

Seven cases were recorded in Edinburgh in 2019-20 - a decrease of one from the year before - but there were two reported in West Lothian and one in Midlothian compared to none in both council areas for the preceding year.

In East Lothian, only one homicide has been reported in the past five years and this was in 2017-18.

A Scottish Government report released on Tuesday set out statistics on homicide cases recorded by police which include crimes of murder and culpable homicide. It excludes the likes of death by dangerous or careless driving or illegal driving resulting in a fatal death.

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A new report has been published on Scotland's homicide cases. Pic: Brian Jackson

Across Scotland, the number of homicides slightly increased year-on-year from 62 to 64 and this remains one of the lowest numbers since 1976.

The number of homicide cases in Scotland has fallen by more than a third in the past ten years and has remained fairly stable with between 59 and 64 each year since 2012.

In Edinburgh, the number of homicides each year has stayed fairly consistent since 2011-12, when 12 cases were recorded, although cases fell to one in 2015-16 before gradually increasing to eight in 2018-19 with seven recorded last year.

By comparison, Glasgow still has a disproportionately large number of homicides for its population but there has been a big drop in cases there over the past 10 years - from 26 to 12.

Cases recorded as homicide by Police Scotland since 1999. Pic: Scottish Government

The new figures also show four homicides in Aberdeen City in 2019-20, the highest number recorded by police there in the last ten years.

Methods and Motives

Of the 64 homicide victims recorded across Scotland in 2019-20, 45 were men and 19 were women. The report says that just one case is currently unsolved.

Most - 55 percent - of victims were killed using a “sharp instrument” and all but three of those involved a knife.

Location of homicide cases in Scotland.

Shooting is relatively rare in Scotland but in 2019-20 there was one victim.

The report said the most common circumstances for male victims were a “rage or fight” with an acquaintance and, for female victims, a rage or fight with a partner or ex-partner in a dwelling.

More than half of the accused were said to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crime, while 49 per cent of victims were said to have been killed in drug-related cases.

The figures show that, for solved cases, the motive was drug-related in 31 homicides in 2019-2020 compared to ten in 2010-11 and just three in 2014-15.

The number of drug-related homicide cases has been consistently higher in the past four years than in preceding years, though Police Scotland say this may be due at least in part to better identification of where motives can include a drug-related element.

None of the homicides recorded in 2019-20 were reported to have had a racial motive, although one case had homophobic motivation. In all homicide cases in the past 10 years, two percent had a homophobic or racist motive.

Homicide cases involving more than one victim are relatively rare and, in 2019-2020, there were no such cases.