SCOTLAND’S capital has the country’s highest crime rate and lowest detection rate with officers regularly taken off frontline duties to cover showpiece events, a watchdog report has found.
The study by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland said Police Scotland’s Edinburgh division recorded 738.2 crimes per 10,000 of population in 2014/15 - “well above” the national average of 481.2.
While Aberdeen and Glasgow have shown a reduction in the past three years, the capital has seen an increase, the report said.
Detection rates are the lowest in the country at 35.4 per cent, as compared with the national average for 2014-15 of 50.4 per cent.
The police watchdog said the current data showed the likelihood of being a victim of crime in the city was the greatest in the country, with the likelihood of an offender being brought to justice, the lowest.
It is estimated the equivalent of 55 officers every day are being drawn from local policing teams to provide temporary cover for a range of additional demands, including policing more than 1,000 pre-planned events hosted in the city every year, such as the Festival and the Royal Military Tattoo.
During 2014-15, there was a 1.1 per cent rise in crimes involving victims in the city, compared with a 5.5 per cent fall across the country as a whole.
Sexual offences rose by 21.1 per cent, compared to a national rise of 9.8 per cent, and housebreaking was up by 20.8 per cent.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Derek Penman said: “We have taken the view that many of the issues affecting Edinburgh Division have arisen because of the specific challenges that come with being the capital city.
“The single force has provided greater access to specialist support and has provided additional officers to assist in meeting these challenges. However I believe there is now a need for Police Scotland to review the balance between local policing and specialist resources to ensure there are sufficient officers within response and community policing roles across the division.
“The positive trends across Scotland of reducing crime levels and improved detection rates are not mirrored in Edinburgh. However these challenges around performance existed before the creation of Police Scotland; and the reasons for them are complex and examined in our report.”
The watchdog’s report also found that officers in Edinburgh are regularly dealing with vulnerable individuals whose needs would be better addressed through “timely interventions by other agencies”, and which would “arguably result in better outcomes for those individuals”.
Chief Superintendent Mark Williams, local policing commander for Edinburgh, said: “We’ve already made real advances to address issues such as housebreaking and, since our specific operation to tackle the issue launched early in 2015, we have halved the number of break-ins per month and doubled our detection rates.
“We have also seen a reduction in violent crime of over 18 per cent against the five-year average with robberies alone down over 28 per cent.
“As (this) report shows, the demand for resources in Edinburgh is unique but we will always seek to respond as effectively as we can, calling upon all the resources available to us at both a local and national level.”