Bad driving crackdown: Speeding fines quadruple

New Police Scotland force officers are cracking down on motoring offences. Picture: Neil Hanna
New Police Scotland force officers are cracking down on motoring offences. Picture: Neil Hanna
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THE number of drivers caught committing motoring offences in the Capital has nearly doubled since Police Scotland was formed, the Evening News reveals today.

Almost four times as many speeding motorists and twice as many careless drivers have been snared since April 1 – when Lothian and Borders Police was disbanded – compared with the same period last year.

Since then, 911 speeding incidents have been recorded, compared with 207 from the same period last year.

Traffic safety offences – such as not wearing seatbelts – have nearly tripled as officers target trunk roads.

Chief Superintendent Mark 
Williams said the tough new measures were designed to cut the number of deaths and serious accidents.

He said: “Speeding is the cause of many road traffic collisions and we are determined to tackle the minority of motorists who think it acceptable to travel at speeds beyond legal limits.

“The creation of the National Trunk Roads Unit, who work closely with local Divisional Road Policing Teams across the country, has enhanced our ability to enforce road traffic legislation on those priority routes within and to and from Edinburgh.”

Neil Greig, director of policy and research at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said he was not surprised by the figures as Police Scotland had promised to “get tough” at road safety committees.

He said: “The new approach is to have a much higher profile out on the roads. I think drivers need to be aware that the police are adopting this new approach and, if you are driving badly, there is a much higher chance now that you’re going to get caught.”

Earlier this month, police were handed additional powers to target irresponsible road users who tailgate or use their phones while driving. Fines were hiked from £60 to £100 with the message made abundantly clear – motoring offences will no longer be tolerated.

One highly placed Police Scotland source said: “Hitting motorists hard isn’t unfair, it’s timely given the extreme amounts of crime being committed on the roads. People – normally bad drivers – who accuse us of seeing them as cash cows probably haven’t pored over the wreckage of a fatal accident.”

Statistics released under the Freedom of Information Act show the total number of offences committed in Edinburgh between April and June was 18,828 – a 31 per cent rise on the same period last year.

There was a sharp increase in crimes of indecency – including rape and sexual assault – over the past three months, rising by 31 per cent over the five-year average to 246.

Crimes of dishonesty rose by 8.6 per cent and crimes described as “other” – such as possession of an offensive weapon and the supply of drugs – rose by 29 per cent on the five-year average. But positively, the number of detected crimes rose by 12.8 per cent overall over a five-year average.

Other notable changes to policing in Edinburgh include an apparent change in attitude towards the sex industry. More than 150 officers pounced on seven saunas and 11 related premises during a major blitz in June. Two waves of police raids saw seven people charged in connection with brothel keeping and living off immoral earnings. But the force insisted there had been no change in the way prostitution was policed.

The number of housebreakers being caught in Edinburgh has plummeted following a radical overhaul of procedure. Between April and June this year, only 74 housebreakings in the Capital have been solved, but during the same three-month period last year, arrests were made in 211 cases. The massive fall comes after specialised housebreaking teams were disbanded under the national framework.

Now, more break-in inquiries are being handled by uniformed officers, rather than specialists, sparking fears the change has led to the drop in performance.

The “worrying” figures have prompted calls for the housebreakings team to be reformed amid criticism that national policing priorities are eclipsing local needs.

Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont said: “No-one believes the Scottish Government when it says crime has plunged to record lows, particularly when it has significantly changed the way it records certain offences.

“If the SNP got tougher on crime and those who cause extensive misery for communities these figures would soon drop.”

Report card

• OVERALL crime detection rates have risen by 12.8 per cent.

From April to June this year, the detected crimes and offences stand at 12,297 compared with 8768 from the same period last year. Much of this has been put down to an increase in visible policing – getting more officers out on the streets rather than stuck behind desks.

A commitment to intelligence gathering has also been key to the new force’s success, with reliance on informants and information from community contacts

being prioritised more than previously, according to police sources.

He said: “There’s a genuine desire on the part of top brass to get back to basics and really work crime. That means getting out and about.”

• CRIMES of violence are down from 254 to 185, showing an overall fall of 27.2 per cent over the same period last year.

Cases of cruel and unnatural treatment of children have dropped from 38 last year to 15, showing a fall of 60 per cent.

Robbery and assault with intent to rob have nearly halved in the past 12 months, with 59 cases recorded under Police Scotland, compared with 110 last year.

There have been 50 cases of serious assault, including culpable and reckless conduct, compared with last year’s 71 and no cases of attempted murder.

However, there have been three murders this year compared to none over the same period for the last two years, two in 2010-11, three in 2009-10 and one in 2008-9.

• THERE was a sharp increase in crimes of indecency – including rape and sexual assault – over the past three months.

The figure has risen by 31 per cent over the five-year average to 246, leading to criticism by some support groups and opposition parties.

Cases of rape have gone up from 34 last year to 42 over the same three-month period this year, with cases up nearly 25 per cent over the last five years. Assaults with intent to rape or ravish have shot up 800 per cent, with nine incidents this year.

Sexual assaults have also gone up, 79 compared with 69 the previous year. But prostitution- related crime is down more than 28 per cent over a five-year average, with 23 cases from April to June.

• FIRE-RAISING and malicious mischief cases are slightly fewer than previous years.

Compared with the same period four years ago when there were 122 incidents of fire-raising, the numbers have steadied in recent years, at 55 this year, and 56 for the same period last year.

Acts of vandalism have been drastically cut over the past five years, nearly halving to this year’s low of 1307.

• CRIMES of dishonesty rose by 8.6 per cent on the same period last year and crimes described as “other” – such as possession of an offensive weapon and the supply of drugs – rose by 29 per cent on the five-year average.

Between April and June this year, only 74 housebreakings in the Capital have been solved.

During the same two-month period last year, arrests were made in 211 cases.

• MORE than 150 officers pounced on seven saunas and 11 related premises in a major blitz on the city’s brothels in June.

Two waves of police raids in June saw seven people charged in connection with brothel keeping and living off immoral earnings. But Chief Superintendent Mark Williams, the city’s police commander, has said that there had been “no change in the way we police prostitution” in Edinburgh.

‘We’ll tackle highest tiers of criminality’

IN April the Lothian and Borders name was consigned to history to make way for Police Scotland.

The move saw the eight existing forces and the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency and Scottish Police Services Authority merge to become a single service known as Police Scotland.

At the time, Chief Constable Sir Stephen House said it would “tackle the highest tiers of criminality.”

He said: “We will do this in a way which is very visible, accessible and which truly connects with public priorities, demand and tackles threat, risk and harm where it arises.

“Scotland has a proud history of policing. Police Scotland will take that record into a new era.”

The national body replaced the eight regional forces which were created in the 1970s, making it the second largest in the UK, after the Metropolitan Police, with 17,436 officers, 6168 police staff and 1404 special constables.

Chief Superintendent Mark Williams, Edinburgh’s new police commander, said changes would include taking police chiefs away from their desks and sent out on regular street patrols.

A number of newly created units tasked with tackling crime in the Capital were unveiled, including a domestic abuse investigation unit, a rape investigation unit and a road policing unit.

The merger has come at the cost of an estimated 3000 staff jobs, as many backroom functions were combined.

Regional fire brigades also merged into a national service, in a bid to save about £1.7 billion in 15 years.