Edinburgh bucks national trend with rise in crime

A wave of housebreaking is one of the main reasons. Picture: Ian Georgeson

A wave of housebreaking is one of the main reasons. Picture: Ian Georgeson

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SCOTLAND’s capital has seen a 14 per cent rise in recorded crime in a year, despite national figures being at their lowest level since the early 1970s.

Official statistics also show Edinburgh has one of the worst clear-up rates for crime (40 per cent) and a domestic housebreaking rate of more than twice the national average.

According to figures released yesterday, the number of crimes recorded nationally in Police Scotland’s first year of operation fell one per cent to 270,397, the lowest level since 1974.

But the number of sex crimes recorded by police is at its highest level in more than 40 years as more victims of historical offences come forward encouraged by high-profile cases such as the Jimmy Savile inquiry.

While Scotland as a whole has seen a reduction in recorded crime since Police Scotland came into effect on 1 April 2013, a number of areas bucked the trend, including Edinburgh (14 per cent rise); Midlothian (eight per cent); West Lothian (five per cent); East Lothian (five per cent) and the Borders (one per cent), all of which were previously covered by Lothian and Borders Police.

There were also rises in Fife (six per cent); Angus (five per cent); Inverclyde (three per cent); Dundee (three per cent) and Renfrewshire (one per cent).

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The rise in Edinburgh has been driven by an increase in domestic housebreakings, which at 69 per 10,000 population is now more than double the national average of 31 per 10,000.

Three-quarters of the increase in Edinburgh’s crime figures was accounted for by “crimes of dishonesty”, particularly housebreaking and other theft.

In Fife, 42 per cent of the increase was due to an increase in sexual crimes.

Scottish Labour’s justice spokesman, Graeme Pearson, said rising crime levels in some part of the country raised questions about the operation of Scotland’s single police force.

He said: “It is welcome news that crime levels in Scotland have reached a 40-year low, however the rising levels of crime in Edinburgh, Midlothian, Fife, West Lothian, and East Lothian should cause serious concern about how the lack of planning in the creation of Police Scotland – based in Stirling – has affected local policing.

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“It’s critically important that police forces respond to local concerns, and the current structure makes it difficult to do that. [Justice secretary designate] Michael Matheson must work to deliver a local policing strategy to bring down crime levels on the east coast and ensure that all police forces have the confidence of local people.”

Across Scotland violent crime fell by 10 per cent in 2013-14, while crimes of handling an offensive weapon are down five per cent on the previous year – the lowest level since 1986.

The number of homicides, either common law murder or culpable homicide, decreased from 65 to 61.

The “clear-up rate” – defined as when there is sufficient evidence to bring a prosecution – was 52 per cent nationally. However, this fell to 40 per cent in Edinburgh and 35 per cent in East Renfrewshire, the lowest level in Scotland.

Chief Superintendent Mark Williams, divisional commander for Edinburgh, said: “Where there were increases in recorded crime we acted swiftly to address them. For example, in December last year we re-introduced our housebreaking teams through Operation RAC.

“Within a few months, £463,989 worth of stolen property was recovered and returned to rightful owners, with a reduction of almost 33 per cent in housebreakings in the East Neighbourhood Area alone. These reductions have been sustained and continue to be delivered.

“Rises in recorded crime were also generated as a result of a more robust approach to domestic abuse.

“For example, in Edinburgh, the number of common assaults linked to domestic abuse rose by 78 per cent when comparing 2013-14 with 2012-13. This pro-active approach to targeting offenders also led to large increases in bail offences.”

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