EDINBURGH, Scotland, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- The homicide rate in Scotland rose 18 percent in a year, officials said Wednesday, an increase the justice minister blamed on "bargain basement booze."
Almost two-thirds of the killings were in Strathclyde, a region that includes Glasgow, Scotland's largest city, The Scotsman reported. The region has 43 percent of Scotland's population.
There were 97 victims in the past year, the government reported, up from 82 in the previous year. The figures include both intentional killings and culpable homicide.
Investigators said heavy drinking was involved in 53 percent of the killings.
"These figures confirm what we already know: bargain basement booze can have a fatal price," Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill said. "We will not shirk from taking tough action on alcohol abuse and we cannot allow this mindless violence, which has devastating consequences for families and communities across Scotland, to continue."
Spokesmen for the Conservative and Scottish Labor parties called for tougher laws for crimes committed with a knife, pointing to the high percentage of stabbings.