Visiting the Community Safety Unit in Drylaw, North Edinburgh, the minister announced a£1m investment in Community Safety Partnerships to give 12 to 16 year-olds better access to sport and leisure activities during the summer holidays - when long, unsupervised days can lead a minority to become involved in petty crime and antisocial behaviour.
'Our investment in record frontline policing is helping to reduce crime. I commend the police for their efforts - in particular, their work to tackle violent crime which decreased by seven per cent in the past year.
'We are making strides in helping people to feel safer in their homes and safer in their communities. But there is more to do. Serious crime is down but as today's statistics show, communities are clearly still plagued by vandalism and other persistent forms of antisocial behaviour.
'To help tackle this, I am today announcing a further£1m for community safety partnerships to give young Scots access to a wide range of constructive summer holiday activities aimed at diverting them from petty crime and antisocial behaviour.
'Last year, tens of thousands of young people benefited from this funding, for example through free swimming pool entry and organised sports and music workshops. I want to give more youngsters the opportunity to benefit this year - not as as a reward for offending behaviour, but by promoting positive, healthy pursuits and by making these available when they are most needed.
'Today's statistics demonstrate that the Executive is right to make antisocial behaviour a priority. On Thursday we will be debating key proposals that we believe will give the authorities the extra powers they need to tackle the hard-core of people who heap misery on their neighbours. This crucial legislation is supported by our White Paper on liquor licensing which sets out our proposals to reform licensing legislation around principles that will help prevent crime, disorder and public nuisance.
'This Executive is on the side of Scotland's law abiding majority. We are working with the police, courts and others to ensure they get the protection they need from the law-breaking few. Swifter, smarter justice for offenders. Progress in addressing crime and the fear of crime. The funding announced today complements the work already underway to achieve the safer, stronger Scotland we all want.'
These statistics will assist police authorities and forces in planning and delivering an even more effective service. They provide information on overall crime trends, and in particular, they will assist in the monitoring of progress against national police targets.
The£1m announced today will be available to all 32 community safety partnerships in Scotland, each of which will decide what is required for their local area. We are currently considering details of their applications and will announce the funding to be made available to individual partnerships within the next few weeks.
In April this year, the police introduced a new Scottish Crime Recording Standard (SCRS). This will affect the recorded crime figures for 2004/05. It is expected that the number of minor crimes such as vandalism and minor thefts recorded by the police will increase next year, although it is not anticipated that it will have much impact on figures for the more serious crimes such as serious assault, sexual assault, robbery or housebreaking.
Earlier this week, the Scottish Executive launched a new improved Scottish Crime and Victimisation Survey. It will to monitor underlying crime trends in crime between 2003/04 and 2004/05, when recorded crime figures will be affected by the introduction of the new recording standard.
Recorded Crimes in Scotland 2003
Recorded crime in Scotland decreased by five per cent last year, according to the latest annual statistics published today.
The figures show that the total number of crimes recorded by the police in 2003 was 406,979 - the lowest level for nearly a quarter of a century, and a decrease of 20,055 (5 per cent) on the previous year. At the same time, the crime clear up rate rose to 47 per cent, to reach an all-time high.
Recorded Crime in Scotland 2003
Other main findings in the recorded crime statistics include:
-- The number of violent crimes (non-sexual crimes of violence) recorded by the police decreased by seven per cent, down from 16,461 in 2002 to 15,230 in 2003
-- The number of sexual crimes (indecency) increased marginally from 6,552 in 2002 to 6,557 in 2003 but numbers are still below the levels observed in 1997 and 1998
-- Within this group recorded cases of rape & attempted rape increased by eight per cent from 913 to 988, the highest number ever recorded. This partially reflects pro-active efforts by police to encourage the reporting of such crimes
-- The number of crimes of dishonesty decreased for the fourth consecutive year, down 11 per cent from 235,668 in 2002 to 210,874 last year
-- Recorded cases of Vandalism, including fire-raising and malicious mischief, increased by five per cent from 95,470 to 100,036 in 2003. This increase reflects improved recording of minor incidents of such crimes throughout most police forces in Scotland.
-- In 2003 the police recorded 586,150 offences - an increase of 77,295 (15 per cent) on the previous year and the highest number ever recorded. This was due to a 62 per cent increase in speeding offences compared to 2002, reflecting the impact of the Scottish Safety Camera Programme. This programme has allowed speed camera enforcement to be targeted at roads with a history of speeding and accidents, and has helped reduce road accident casualties.
-- Total crime increased in four out of eight Scottish police forces, with Fife, Dumfries and Galloway, Central and Northern showing increases of 10 per cent, seven per cent, six per cent and three per cent respectively. The increases in the total number of crimes recorded largely reflects increases in the numbers of recorded crimes of vandalism, due to better police recording methods for minor crimes of vandalism.
This is a Scottish Executive National Statistics publication. National statistics are produced to high professional standards set out in the National Statistics Code of Practice. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference.
At the request of users and data providers, consulted through the SCOTSTAT Crime and Justice Committee, statistical bulletins in the criminal justice series will move to a financial year basis from 2004/05. As a transitional arrangement, this recorded crime bulletin includes data for financial years up to 2003/04 in addition to the calendar year figures for years to 2003.
In April 2004/05 the police introduced a new Scottish Crime Recording Standard (SCRS). This will affect the recorded crime figures for 2004/05. The new crime recording standard is expected to increase the numbers of minor crimes recorded by the police such as minor crimes of vandalism and minor thefts. Although it is not anticipated to have much impact on the figures for the more serious crimes such as serious assault, sexual assault, robbery or housebreaking, trends in overall recorded crime will be affected. The Scottish Executive has announced a new improved Scottish Crime and Victimisation Survey to monitor the underlying trends in crime between 2003/04 and 2004/05, when the trends in the recorded crime figures will be affected by the introduction of the new recording standard.