Skip to main content

Which Scottish city has the highest rate of violent crime?

Composite image showing various Glasgow skylines with the text 'the most dangerous city in scotland'

The murder rate in Scotland is currently at its lowest in over four decades. However, that’s not to say violent crime isn’t still blighting areas across the country. The question is, which part of Scotland has it the worst, based on official statistics?

What follows is a rundown of local authority areas in Scotland, from least to most dangerous, utilising data gathered from 2021 and focusing on the number of reported ‘non-sexual crimes of violence’.

This is an official designation that includes not only homicides and assaults, but also robberies and cases of domestic abuse, among other offences.

9. Falkirk - Violent crimes: 2,285

Sitting in the Forth Valley, between the large cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, Falkirk is known for attractions like the vast horse sculptures called the Kelpies. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most dangerous places in Scotland, going by the most recent official statistics.

The town has been in the headlines in connection with some egregious crimes over the past few years – including an incident in 2021 when a young female shoplifter, who was stealing a bag of perfumes from Boots, grabbed a store worker by her hair and struck her head against the till.

8. West Lothian - Violent crimes: 2,503

Just to the east of Edinburgh, West Lothian is known for being the birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots. It’s also seen its share of crimes in recent times.

Causing death by dangerous driving is included in the official category of ‘non-sexual crimes of violence’, and a tragic example was seen in August 2022. A young mother was killed after two motorcyclists and a car driver apparently engaged in a reckless race on an ordinary road.

7. Dundee - Violent crimes: 2,967

The coastal city of Dundee has plenty to help it appeal to visitors, including the RRS Discovery, a former ship of the legendary Antarctic explorers Scott and Shackleton.

Offences, however, are on the up. In fact, when calculated by crimes per 10,000 people (rather than the outright number of crimes, which is our measure for this list), Dundee is now officially the violent crime capital of Scotland. Much of this is down to a recent surge in assaults and robberies.

6. South Lanarkshire - Violent crimes: 3,431

South Lanarkshire borders Glasgow, encompassing some of the suburban towns of Greater Glasgow and including attractive areas like the UNESCO World Heritage Site of New Lanark.

Its largest town, East Kilbride, has witnessed some appalling acts of violence in recent times. One case involved three boys, aged 13 and 14, who were arrested in August 2022 for an alleged group attack that was broadcast on social media.

5. Aberdeen - Violent crimes: 3,820

As Scotland’s third-largest city, Aberdeen is rich in history and also one of the country’s most exciting technology hubs. It’s regrettably high on the list of dangerous spots in Scotland, however, with some recent crimes being quite startling in their ferocity.

One example from August 2022 saw a pair of teenagers chase a man into an Aberdeen Nando’s and beat him as horrified diners looked on. A reminder that some thugs can and will lash out no matter the time or the place.

4. North Lanarkshire - Violent crimes: 4,050

Next on our list is North Lanarkshire, which – like South Lanarkshire – contains some of the suburbs and commuter towns of the Greater Glasgow region. Its most densely populated town is Cumbernauld, which found fame as the setting of the seminal 1980 romantic comedy Gregory’s Girl.

North Lanarkshire does, however, rank as the fourth most crime-ridden location in Scotland, with one recent offender being a 15-year-old arrested for attacking a pensioner on a Cumbernauld street.

3. Fife - Violent crimes: 5,278

The Fife region is known the world over thanks to the presence of St Andrews, dubbed the ‘Home of Golf’. It’s also, of course, where you’ll find the renowned University of St Andrews.

Genteel and upscale though much of Fife is, it’s nevertheless in the top three Scottish locations when it comes to violent crime. One local teenager hit the headlines in 2021 for reportedly stabbing a police officer, slashing a police dog, and trying to kill his ex-girlfriend with an axe.

2. Edinburgh - Violent crimes: 7,321

Edinburgh is a city that needs little introduction. Attracting tourists from across the globe, it is a picture-perfect distillation of Scottish history, culture, and cuisine. Of course, its grittier side has been well documented, most notably in Irvine Welsh’s landmark book Trainspotting.

It is still, today, one of the most dangerous cities in Scotland, with one violent criminal slashing a man’s throat just months after trying to kill his flatmate. More recently, detectives have been probing the murder of a much-loved retired schoolteacher who’d taught at Tony Blair’s former school.

1. Glasgow - Violent crimes: 11,603

In the ‘top’ spot as the city with the highest number of recorded violent crimes is Glasgow. This unenviable ranking is perhaps unsurprising, given that it has the highest population of all Scottish cities.

A particularly dreadful Glasgow atrocity occurred in April 2021, when a woman was stabbed dozens of times by her daughter’s ex-partner, during what had started as a friendly get-together. The killer later claimed to simply 'not remember' knifing her to death.

Murdertown Episode 3: Glasgow airs exclusively on Crime + Investigation on Sunday, 25th September and is available to stream on Crime + Investigation Play the following day.