LOTHIAN and Borders Police has the worst record for solving crimes of any of Scotland's eight police forces, new figures have revealed.
• Housebreakings are among the types of offences on the rise. Picture posed by model
The force solved 43 per cent of the 64,943 reported crimes between last April and March, a slight fall on the 45 per cent cleared up in the previous year.
Strathclyde Police came second bottom with 47 per cent last year, while their colleagues in Dumfries and Galloway came out top with 71 per cent.
Police chiefs today said that overall crime was down by eight per cent and pledged to continue a "proactive approach" to crime prevention.
But critics said officers needed to spend more time on the streets catching criminals and called for further reduction in paperwork to free up time.
Edinburgh also emerged as the second worst council area for crimes solved out of the council's 32 local authorities.
For the force area, the figure of 43 per cent of crimes being cleared up fell below the national average of 49 per cent.
Last year, Lothian and Borders Police and their colleagues in Strathclyde tied as the forces with the lowest percentage of criminals caught.
Gavin Brown, Lothians Tory MSP, said: "These statistics demonstrate how important it is that police red tape and bureaucracy is cut in order to allow police officers to spend as much time as possible in the front line clearing up crime."
And Labour's justice spokesman Richard Baker said: "I want to congratulate Lothian and Borders Police on reducing crime, but it's also essential that offences are solved and the perpetrators are caught."
The report of Recorded Crime in Scotland found that violent crimes, such as serious assaults and robbery, all fell in Lothian and Borders along with rapes and attempted rapes, shoplifting, handling an offensive weapon, minor assaults and car thefts.
Among the offences to increase were indecent assaults, housebreakings and breaches of the peace.
A council spokesman defended the police record. He said: "Findings from our latest neighbourhood survey show high levels of satisfaction on our partnership working with Lothian and Borders Police on violent crime at 91 per cent and tackling anti-social behaviour at 75 per cent."
A police spokesman said: "The statistics on crime rates reflect in many ways the proactive approach we take. Nevertheless, we cannot be complacent and must ensure we continue to build on our success."