On Scotland's crime shame

I BROKE the first rule of life in Norway when I arrived there this summer with a suitcase full of jumpers and jeans, only to discover 25C sunshine.

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There's no such thing as bad weather, claim those hardy Norwegians, merely inappropriate clothing.

I'd love to hear a ScotRail announcer include that in their list of excuses.

"We'd like to apologise to customers for the delay to your service, but the driver forgot his long johns."

I spent three months living just outside of Oslo, capital of this land of fabled trolls, Vikings, moose and polar bears, and, as I quickly found, the £12 pint.

On the morning of sentencing of the country's worst mass murderer, Anders Behring Breivik, I furiously typed the ticker feed from the NRK news channel into Google Translate.

There were solemn nods and polite handshakes.

No sensationalism, just a quiet resolve that nothing like this would darken their history books again.

This harrowing blip in Norway's mortality record was best summed up by the words of one mourner, who said: "If one man can show so much hate, think how much love we could show, standing together."

Those words struck a chord again on reading our apparent acceptance of Scotland's – and Glasgow's – murder figures.

There were 'just' 15 homicides in Glasgow in 2011-12. Just.

The Scottish Government tells us that homicides in Scotland are down 11% year-on-year. Break out the bubbly, shall we?

Our booze and blade culture is claiming far fewer lives than it did a decade ago. Time for a press release.

This raw and painful subject is no cause for wangling political mileage.

What I find scariest is that the majority of victims in Scotland know their killers – and that alcohol or drugs is a factor in most crimes.

Alex Salmond is fond of aligning Scotland with our oil-rich North Sea neighbour, where a crown prince wed a single mother and you just ring the rail provider if you want to transport a gun on the train.

But you can't buy wine or spirits in a Norwegian supermarket – you have to visit a 'vinmonopolet' that keeps roughly the same opening hours as high street banks do here. Would a similar system drive down crime figures in Scotland?

What's even more terrifying in this week's Scottish homicide statistics is that half of female victims were killed by a partner or ex-partner.

This is a system that doesn't crack down on violent behaviour when it is first demonstrated, and allows offenders to construct a higher wall between themselves and society.

We need to tackle the root causes of violent crime if we're to have murder statistics to be proud of. Let's aim for none. Just none.

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