AS the seat of democracy, it is a building where laws are not only approved but, hopefully, abided by.
Scores of crimes have been committed at the Scottish Parliament in recent years, according to police statistics which reveal a dark underbelly to the country’s legislative body.
From theft and malicious damage to a host of other petty crimes, the data suggests that rather being a place of virtuous debate, the parliament is at times a den of vice.
The figures, released by Police Scotland, detail no fewer than 52 crimes which have been reported at the building in Edinburgh’s Old Town since the start of 2013, 42 of which remain unsolved.
Incidences of theft make up the lion’s share of the crimes, with 37 reports. Most of the cases involved property belonging to elected representatives, their staff, or employees at the parliament itself.
Although the statistics - released under a Freedom of Information request - do not give details for every incident, items alleged to have been stolen include quantities of money, mobile telephones and keys, as well as less obvious possessions such as a pair of trainers and a box biscuits.
The so-called Holyrood crimewave comes despite officials at the parliament spending millions of pounds on security measures.
Visitors to the £414m building have to go through an airport-style scan and frisk system, while Police Scotland have a unit based at the parliament building staffed by a dedicated officer, while. However, out of the 52 reported crimes, 42 remain unsolved to date.
John Lamont MSP, the Scottish Conservatives’ chief whip, said the extent of the reported crimes was a worrying development which called into the question the effectiveness of the existing procedures.
“”It is obviously concerning that so many crimes are being committed within the Scottish Parliament,” he said.
“We must have robust security measures in place, so the highest possible vetting and checks are carried out on all new staff.”
As well as thefts, the offences include six instances of an individual behaving in a threatening or abusive manner and five cases of vandalism. Police were also called to investigate allegations about the sending offensive emails and the possession of drugs.
In 2013, a £6.5m security extension was opened at the parliament. The new entrance offers more space for screening and a baggage drop and bosses said it was given the go-ahead following security advice.
Other security measures which have been installed at the building since it opened in 2014 include turnstiles at two entrances, more concrete bollards and benches as a barrier in front the building and a “triangular roundabout” at the entrance to the underground car park.
A Scottish Parliament spokesman said: “The parliament is a public building that attracts around 400,000 visitors a year.
“Any criminal activity around the parliament is a matter for the Police Unit at Holyrood or Police Scotland to investigate.”
The figures also showed that three crimes have also been committed at St Andrew’s House in Edinburgh, the headquarters of the Scottish government, in the last three years.
Officers investigated two offences under the Communications Act for sending offensive material and an accusation of threatening behaviour at the building.