Study shows class gap in killings

Scots in poor areas are more than 30 times more likely to be killed in an assault than those in affluent parts of the country, a study has revealed.

Latest research showed a widening gap in society and compared Scotland badly with similar European countries.

The paper, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, claims to go further than previous research, highlighting “extreme” inequality among death rates and a rise in fatal knife attacks.

A woman in the most deprived area is 35 times more likely to die in an assault than one in the most affluent area with men 31.9 times likely to die – a rate similar to deaths from stroke, the report found.

The authors said: “Reducing mortality and inequalities depends on addressing the problems of deprivation as well as targeting known contributors, such as alcohol use, the carrying of knives and gang culture.”

The Scottish Government has resisted opposition calls to tackle violence through a mandatory jail sentence for anyone caught carrying a knife and has introduced efforts to tackle knife crime including a “no knives, better lives” programme for young people and “record investment” in violence reduction.

The research paper, which looked at 1,109 certified deaths due to assault, said rates doubled between 1981 and 2004, with fatal stab wounds from knives and other sharp weapons accounting for most of the increase. Estimates suggest that violence costs the Scottish economy around £3 billion a year for healthcare, law enforcement and lost productivity.

The murder rate in Scotland has been steadily increasing since 1980, accompanied by rising death rates from suicide, chronic liver disease and mental health problems related to drug and alcohol misuse, the report stated.

Findings showed that the rate of killings was significantly higher in Scotland than in other high-income countries in Europe, with rates among Scottish men more than double those of their European peers.

A Scottish Government spokesman said there are record levels of police officers at a time when crime is at its lowest in almost 30 years.

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