“The SNP always seek to cover up their dire failures in government … Violent crime in Scotland has been rising for the last five years” – Tory MP Paul Holmes, House of Commons, March 17, 2021.


Violent crime has fallen by two-fifths since the SNP government came to office in 2007. Last year was the first to see an actual fall in recorded sex crimes.


On March, 17, 2021, the SNP used one of their Westminster opposition days to hold a debate on Scottish independence. During the course of the debate, English Conservative MP Paul Holmes launched an angry attack on the record of the SNP government at Holyrood. Holmes talked of the “dire record” of the Scottish Government, claiming that “violent crime in Scotland has been rising for the last five years”.

The youthful Holmes (32) is the Conservative MP for the quaintly named constituency of Eastleigh, Hedge End & the Villages. He was elected only in 2019. Previously, he was a Tory councillor in Southampton and worked‌ as a special adviser to former Tory Cabinet Office minister Damian Green.

Holmes was also at one point the chair of Conservative Future, a Tory youth organisation which was suspended by the main party in 2015 after a scandal involving sexual misconduct and blackmail. Currently he is a member of Conservative Way Forward, a group pledged to "defend and build upon the achievements of the Conservative Party under Margaret Thatcher's leadership”.

READ MORE: Violent crime in Scotland down 39 per cent since 2008, data reveals

Holmes’ frequent interventions on Scottish matters – of which he has no known history or expertise – suggest a politician anxious to be noticed by his frontbench. He needs to try hard because in 2018 he called for Boris Johnson to be sacked as Foreign Secretary for not supporting Theresa May.


Is Paul Holmes correct to say that violent crime is on the rise in Scotland? The latest Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS) – covering 2019-20 – was published in March 2021. The survey is based on interviewing 5600 adults. It is considered more reliable than recorded crime as it incorporates incidents not reported to police.

The latest SCJS shows that the total volume of crime in Scotland has fallen by 46% since 2008-09. In particular, incidents of violent crime have fallen by nearly two-fifths (39%) over the same period. While violent crime often fluctuates from one year to another, the SCJS clearly shows a declining trend – contrary to Holme’s claims in the House of Commons.

In fact, the record on crime of the Scottish Government is very positive. The SCJS survey shows that Scots are now less likely to be a victim compared to when the SNP government was first elected in 2007. One in eight adult Scots report they personally experienced a crime in 2019-20 (11.9%). This compares with one in five (20.4%) in 2008-09. In fact, Scots are less likely to have experienced crime than people in England and Wales during 2019-20.

The SCJS survey also shows that Scots are feeling safer. Some 77% of people now report feeling very or fairly safe walking alone in their local area after dark. This compares with only 66% a decade ago. However, it is true that only 65% of women in Scotland in 2019-20 say they feel safe walking home alone. In the light of Sarah Everard's kidnap and murder in London, this is a cause for concern.


Statistics for crimes recorded with Police Scotland for the period between 2018-19 and 2019-20 were published at the end of last year. The recorded data shows that “non-sexual” crimes of violence increased by 16%, from 8008 to 9316. However, this increase is largely due to new systems of recording. In 2019-20, 1,681 new crimes were logged under the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act, following its enactment on the April 1, 2019.

This is not to condone or minimise domestic abuse. However, the rise in recorded domestic violence is not down to an actual increase in violence itself but rather society identifying abuse that previously had gone unreported. Note: all other reported non-sexual crimes of violence collectively decreased by 5% in 2019-20. This trend is quite the opposite of what Paul Holmes was trying to claim in Parliament.

In 2019-20, recorded sexual crimes in Scotland (including prostitution and cybercrime) actually decreased from 13,547 to 13,364. This is the first year since 2008-09 where sexual crimes have not increased. Of course, conviction rates for rape remain at a ludicrously low level, but that is an issue within the justice system itself.


For the record, the latest recorded crime figures for England show a 3% rise in violence against the person. The number of homicides in England in 2019-20 increased by 9%. No-one in Scotland will take any comfort in these numbers.

Finally, we should note that (sadly) one in every 100 adults in Scotland were victims of repeated incidents of violence, according to the SCJS survey. Yet their experiences account for almost two-thirds of all violent crime in 2019-20. In other words, violent acts are concentrated in a very narrow part of the community. The vision of Paul Holmes that violence is on the rampage in Scotland is another Unionist fantasy.


The National: National Fact Check False 


Holmes will have to try harder if he is to get back in the good books of the PM.