Homicides in Scotland reached their lowest recorded level in 2020-21, according to new figures from the country's Chief Statistician.

The report, Homicide in Scotland, 2020-21, reveals that 55 homicide cases, involving 58 victims, were recorded by the police in Scotland during the year, down from 65 cases with 66 victims in 2019-20. This is the lowest number of homicide cases recorded since comparable records began in 1976.

The number of homicide cases in Scotland has remained relatively stable in recent years, with between 59 and 65 cases recorded each year from 2012-13 to 2019-2020, though that range shows a sharp drop from the 91 cases in 2011-12.

Of the 58 victims last year, 83% (48) were male, compared with 47 out of 66 victims (71%) the previous year; and of the 65 persons accused of homicide, 92% of them were male. All 55 cases recorded for 2020-21 were solved.

Two thirds of cases occurred within a residential location. A knife or other sharp instrument accounted for 59% of homicide victims, and the victim and main accused were known to each other in 91% of cases. Drugs were involved in 41 of the deaths (71%), up from 31 (47%) in 2019-20. Of the 65 persons accused in homicide cases in 2020-21, 40 (62%) were reported to have been under the influence of alcohol, drugs or a combination of both at the time.

Between 2011-12 and 2020-21, 62 of the 151 female victims (41%) were killed by a partner or ex-partner, 42 (28%) by an acquaintance, 28 (19%) by a relative and 12 (8%) by a stranger. Of the 485 male victims, 280 (58%) were killed by an acquaintance, 109 (22%) by a stranger, 36 (7%) by a relative and 22 (5%) by a partner or ex-partner. There were a few cases where the relationship if any was not known.