Crime levels rise for first time in more than a decade

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The overall level of recorded crime has increased for the first time in 11 years following a rise in the number of violent and sexual offences.

Figures published by the Scottish Government show there were 244,504 crimes recorded by police in 2017-18, a 1 per cent increase on the ­previous year.

The overall level of recorded crime has increased for the first time in 11 years following a rise in the number of violent and sexual offences. Picture: John Devlin.

The overall level of recorded crime has increased for the first time in 11 years following a rise in the number of violent and sexual offences. Picture: John Devlin.

While the figure is the second lowest since 1974, reflecting an overall downward trend, it nevertheless represents the first rise since 2006-7.

The “clear-up rate” for crimes deemed solved by the police fell marginally to 49.5 per cent.

Non-sexual crimes of violence increased by 1 per cent to 7,251, while there was 13 per cent rise in sexual offences to 12,487, including a 20 per cent increase in rapes and attempted rapes.

The number of sexual crimes recorded by police has risen by 97 per cent since 2008-9 to their highest level since recording began in 1971, including a 99 per cent increase in rapes and attempted rapes since 2010-11.

Rape Crisis Scotland said it was hard to tell how much of the increase was due to victims having more confidence to come forward, and how much was an increase in offending.

Labour justice spokesman Daniel Johnson said: “These figures show SNP cuts to local policing are misguided.

“But the answer cannot be just more and better policing – this increase is also down to the SNP’s wider failure to invest in our economy, create jobs and tackle poverty.”

Conservative justice spokesman Liam Kerr said: “Instead of trying to put a positive spin on these figures, the SNP government should be ensuring the police have the resources they need to do the job, and think very carefully about the messages their policies are sending.”

While the national increase in recorded crime was 1 per cent overall, some areas of the country saw double-digit ­rises, including the Borders 
(12 per cent), East Renfrewshire (14 per cent), Edinburgh (11 per cent) and Falkirk (15 per cent).

Meanwhile, separate research published yesterday by the Scottish Government showed the number of muggings have more than halved over the past decade, and that teenagers and people in their 20s are much less likely to commit a robbery or be a victim of one.

Robbery in public settings by strangers has fallen from 2,080 in 2008-9 to 860 in 2017-18. The use of a bladed weapon in robbery has also dropped from an estimated 1,270 to 550 over the same period.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “Scotland’s streets are now safer and less violent than they were a decade ago.

“While any small rise in crime is disappointing, we remain focused with the police and other partners on keeping crime at historically low levels.”