Edinburgh crime rate falls by nearly ten per cent as police target felons

Crime is down by ten per cent in Edinburgh. Picture: PHIL WILKINSON

Crime is down by ten per cent in Edinburgh. Picture: PHIL WILKINSON

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CRIME has fallen by nearly ten per cent in Edinburgh over the past year – three times more than the national average.

Housebreaking saw a 20 per cent reduction – meaning 1000 fewer break-ins – and the number of robberies fell by 23 per cent.

Altogether, there were 3365 fewer crimes in Edinburgh in 2015-16 than in 2014-15, a drop of 9.5 per cent.

City police commander Chief Superintendent Kenny MacDonald said this meant there were thousands fewer victims of crime in the Capital.

He attributed the dramatic reduction to police targeting of known criminals, tough sentences from the courts and an increase in crime prevention measures in homes and shops.

And he pledged that housebreaking would remain a key priority for the force.

Across Scotland, crime was down 3.2 per cent to a total of 246,243 recorded crimes in Scotland during the year, continuing a long-established downward trend.

Mr MacDonald said: “A reduction in crime of nearly ten per cent is an exceptionally positive story for the city as we continue to focus on public safety and the issues that matter most to the people of Edinburgh, like housebreaking.”

He described the housebreaking statistics as encouraging, but added there was no room for complacency.

“Overall, housebreaking is down over the year by 20 per cent, domestic housebreaking down nearly four per cent,” he said.

“We are also seeing the number of successful housebreakings – where property is stolen – decreasing.

“I believe that’s because of the crime prevention advice we are giving. People are taking simple steps to protect their property, such as installing window locks.”

The detection for domestic housebreakings has risen by 4.5 per cent to nearly 37 per cent. Mr MacDonald said police had arrested 353 people for housebreaking last year – nearly one person every day.

“However, in my view the level of housebreaking in the city remains too high and I’m committed to continuing with the dedicated housebreaking teams to tackle it.”

Both shop robberies and street robberies are down. “That’s particularly good news given the number of tourists we have coming to the city,” said Mr MacDonald. “We have targeted known offenders and had great support from other parts of the criminal justice system, where we have seen strong sentencing for those committing such offences.”

He said police had also been engaged in crime prevention work with businesses, including installing or upgrading CCTV, giving advice on cash-handling and other simple measures to reduce the risk of becoming a victim.

The number of serious assaults, however, increased by a dramatic 36 per cent, but Mr MacDonald said it was largely due to stricter recording procedures. Total assaults showed a smaller increase of four per cent.

Mr MacDonald said he was concerned about drink-fuelled violence linked to city-centre pubs and clubs.

He said “There is a particular hot spot in the city centre where there is violence and disorder linked to the night-time economy. However, we are beginning to see a reduction in offences inside premises as management improves.

“We have a dedicated detail of officers every weekend to ensure there is a visible police presence in the city centre.”

The total number of sexual assaults in the city was also up – from 398 to 481. But 40 per cent of the serious crimes of indecency are historical. Mr MacDonald said: “I think that indicates a willingness of victims to come forward and increasing confidence not just in the police but also the criminal justice system and other agencies.”

The clear-up rate for sexual crimes shows seven out of ten are detected. Other crime categories, including vandalism and drug possession, saw little change from last year.

The improvement in overall crime figures for Edinburgh was better than for the other big Scottish cities. Aberdeen and Dundee both saw an increase in total crimes. Glasgow’s fell by 8.2 per cent.

In the Lothians and Scottish Borders division, crime fell by 2.1 per cent.

Edinburgh’s community safety leader Councillor Cammy Day welcomed the figures. He said: “This shows the partnership between the police, the council and the wider community is proving successful.

“Particularly with house burglary, which is a horrible experience for anyone, to see the numbers down so much is great news for the city.”

He said the council had given strong support to the police’s Operation RAC, targeting housebreaking.

“There has also been support from the community, giving intelligence to the police. We need more of that, people coming forward with information about people involved in crimes like housebreaking, whether committing the burglary or selling on the goods.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com