Crime falling, but detection rate is worst in Scotland

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LOTHIAN and Borders Police recorded the second highest drop in crime of Scotland’s eight forces last year – but they had the worst record for solving cases for the second year running.

New figures showed that the force dealt with 60,167 crimes between last April and March, a fall of seven per cent against the previous year.

But officers solved just 44 per cent of these cases, compared with the Scottish average of 49 per cent, while Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary managed to hit 69 per cent.

Meanwhile, Edinburgh came second top for the country’s 32 local authorities for the frequency of housebreakings.

During 2010/11, there were 55 break-ins to homes for every 10,000 people living in the Capital, second only in the national figures to Dundee, with 56. Glasgow recorded 44 per 10,000 population with the Scottish average standing at 34.

The figures, published yesterday by Scotland’s chief statistician, showed that the solving of crimes in Edinburgh remained at 44 per cent, placing the city seventh worst among local authority areas. Last year, the same performance meant the Capital came second last.

Gavin Brown, Lothians Tory MSP, said: “Lothian and Borders Police ought to be congratulated for the overall results in terms of reducing crime, and I’m sure putting more officers on the beat has contributed towards that. But there is definitely more that needs to be done.

“It’s disappointing to see a rise in violent crime, an issue which needs to be targeted, and the fact that the force’s solvency rates are five per cent below the Scottish average also needs to be looked at.”

Despite Edinburgh’s second place in housebreakings, the number of break-ins fell by 13 per cent in the last year, down from 1618 to 1401. When attempted housebreakings are added, that figure rises to 5228.

Councillor Paul Edie, the city’s community safety leader, also highlighted the five per cent drop in crime in Edinburgh over the year. He said: “The police should be congratulated for their advances in cutting crime generally, although there are still hotspot areas like housebreakings, which remain high despite hard work from the force.”

As well as the seven per cent drop in overall crime, the force area had a 13 per cent drop in sex crimes and a four per cent fall in crimes of dishonesty, although violent crime climbed by 14 per cent. It recorded the second highest number of crimes per 10,000 population with 634. Strathclyde Police topped the list with 692 and Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary registered the lowest average with 457.

Assistant Chief Constable Bill Skelly said: “I welcome the seven per cent reduction in recorded crime, which continues the trend of falling crime rates that we have experienced in recent years. The force will continue its focus on tackling those crimes which have a direct personal impact on victims, not least housebreakings, and I note the progress that has been made in this area over the past year in terms of a continued reduction in offending.”

Across Scotland, recorded crime fell in the last year to its lowest level since 1976, dropping four per cent to 323,060 crimes.

amcewen@edinburghnews.com