§ Mr. Peter Bottomley
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will estimate the ratio and the causes of the difference in the homicide rates in Scotland as compared with England and Wales. 
§ Lord James Douglas-Hamilton
For the period 1989 to 1993 the homicide rate in Scotland per million population, measured by the number of victims, for cases currently recorded as homicide as at 15 October 1994,72W was 20.4. In England and Wales, over the same period for cases currently recorded as homicide as at 5 August 1994, it was 11.4. Thus the ratio of the homicide rate in Scotland to that in England and Wales for the period was 1.8:1.
The higher rate for Scotland may in part be attributed to different recording practices. The numbers of homicides are those recorded by the police, but allowing for changes as a result of decisions that may arise during the course of criminal proceedings. However, in England and Wales cases cease to be recorded as homicide where an accused is acquitted of homicide on grounds of self-defence or accident or where the prosecution subsequently concludes that no homicide has occurred, whereas in Scotland such cases continue to be recorded as homicides. This difference in practice may account for up to one quarter of the difference in the recorded homicide rate. Differences may also arise from differences in the criminal law in each jurisdiction.