FOUR out of five housebreakings in Edinburgh are going unsolved as officers continue to record “plummeting” clear-up rates for break-ins under Police Scotland.
New figures today showed that only 21.1 per cent of the 828 housebreakings reported in the Capital between April and August led to an arrest.
During the same five-month period last year, 42.7 per cent were solved, often by the now disbanded city housebreaking teams.
The clear-up rate has improved slightly from the 17 per cent posted in the first two months of the move to a single force, a massive drop on previous performance which prompted widespread criticism.
Chief Superintendent Mark Williams, Edinburgh’s police commander, today insisted that tackling housebreakings remained a “priority”. But the continuing drop-off since the demise of Lothian and Borders Police has prompted calls for a review of the current set-up.
The housebreaking teams, whose detectives were praised for slashing the rate of break-ins, were disbanded under the national framework. Now more inquiries are being handled by uniformed officers, rather than specialists. Edinburgh West Liberal Democrat MP Mike Crockart wrote to Chief Supt Williams about the issue after the Evening News revealed the performance fall in June.
He said: “I received a vehement response that housebreaking was still a priority, but that’s not borne out by the figures which show clear-up rates plummeting.
“After two months, it may have been that things were just bedding down under the new structure but five months is becoming a trend and a problem.
“The local policing plan for Edinburgh makes personal safety, complete with Glasgow-centric stop and searches, a top priority. Housebreakings are only mentioned tangentially as part of the priority of tackling serious and organised crime.
“It’s all very well saying it’s a priority, but the police need to look again at how housebreakings are being policed if this continues.” Scottish Conservative justice spokeswoman Margaret Mitchell said the decrease in solved cases was “of great concern”.
Along with the small increase in solved break-ins in the last three months, figures showed break-ins between April and August fell by 5.9 per cent against the same period last year.
Chief Supt Williams said: “While we are pleased to observe a reduction in domestic housebreaking and an increase in solvency rates relating to these crimes, compared to earlier in the year, we will not be complacent and will robustly pursue those responsible for acquisitive crime across Edinburgh.
“In addition, local policing teams will continue to provide advice and guidance on crime prevention to ensure the public can safeguard their homes and possessions.”