Kitchen knives and homicide: A systematic study of people charged with murder in the Lothian and Borders region of Scotland Academic Article uri icon


  • A recent English study demonstrated high rates of kitchen knife use in homicides by mentally disordered offenders subject to independent inquiries. Everyone accused of homicide in Scotland undergoes psychiatric examination; all such evaluations in a Scottish region between 2006 and 2011 were systematically analysed to identify homicide characteristics. It was hypothesised that kitchen knives would be the commonest sharp instruments used, and would be associated with unplanned domestic homicide against known victims, with no independent association with mental disorder. Kitchen knives were used in 32 of 55 homicides: 94% of 34 sharp object homicides (p < 0.05). No independent association was found between kitchen knife use and planning, location, relationship, intoxication or mental disorder. Kitchen knife use in homicide appears to be a significant public health issue, and not only in the mentally disordered population. Research is recommended into kitchen knife use in non-fatal violence, and weapon control in populations at increased risk of knife violence.

publication date

  • 2014