A total of 21 calls were made to police about thefts, threatening behaviour and vandalism at Holyrood over the last year to April, with fifteen of them relating to items stolen from the building where MSPs and political and back-office staff are based.
Small cash sums of as little as £4, £5, £8, £10 and £12 were claimed to have been stolen, as were a mobile phone and two keys, according to a Freedom of Information request to Police Scotland. Also claimed to have been stolen were a box of biscuits and a pair of trainers.
Police also said a pair of shoes had been taken under the category “theft by finding”, a charge which occurs when somebody has taken something which seems to have been abandoned in a public place.
Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont said: “The Scottish Parliament is supposed to set an example to the rest of the country.
“We’re supposed to make law here, not allow it to be broken.
“While the figures are still relatively small, it’s important a trend is not allowed to emerge, otherwise public confidence in Holyrood will be damaged.”
Earlier this year, an MSP’s coffee kitty money was taken from his desk. Tory finance spokesman Gavin Brown found the loose change he kept handy for cups of coffee, totalling around £10, had disappeared.
The number of offences reported to police has almost doubled on the previous year, when a total of 11 incidents were recorded.
In 2012 to 2013, the thefts appeared to have been of generally higher worth items, including a camcorder, phone cards, an iPod, a DVD, a welding machine and £32 in cash. There were also three cases of breach of the peace, one of an offensive email being sent and another of vandalism over that period.
A Scottish Parliament spokeswoman said: “All instances of theft are treated very seriously. The theft of any item is a crime and it is important that incidents at the Scottish Parliament are reported to Police Scotland, who will investigate as proportionate to the circumstances.”
It is understood that thefts reported within the parliament would have been dealt with by police based in the building rather than via calls made to 999 or the 101 non-emergency number.
Security is tight at the Scottish Parliament building, with visitors required to pass through airport-style scanners at the public entrance and dedicated police officers on patrol.
Since it opened ten years ago, millions have been spent on installing further security measures, including turnstiles at two entrances, more concrete bollards and benches as a barrier in front of the building and a “triangular roundabout” at the entrance to an underground car park.
The most recent information released by the House of Commons Commission relating to thefts in Westminster revealed London-based thieves are a little more discerning.
Four beer barrels, a bottle of champagne, a floral display and a medal are among the list of items reported to have disappeared from the Westminster parliament.