Comment: No sugar coating crime stats

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WHICHEVER way you look at them, the statistics on Sir Stephen House’s desk today don’t look good.

Housebreaking in Edinburgh up 40 per cent in a year. The number of those crimes solved falling to just one in every four.

In 2010, there were 765 break-ins reported in Edinburgh. Last year there were 4000.

It is often said you can make statistics show whatever you want, but there is clearly no sugar coating this one. Something has gone badly wrong.

Of course this is not the first time we have heard of this issue. Since the formation of Police Scotland in April last year, the figures have been heading in the wrong direction.

An apparent change of emphasis from “acquisitive” crime to crimes of violence under the new force saw specialist housebreaking teams dismantled despite protests.

The sharp drop in solving crimes was the particularly worrying part. The police cannot be expected to stop every house being broken, but they can be expected to track down those responsible and bring them to justice.

The situation is thankfully changing, and city commander Mark Williams only this week pointed to the latest figures which showed a 40 per cent drop in housebreaking from April to May this year, with a higher proportion of offenders being caught. We hope that trend continues.

The lesson for Police Scotland here is to listen. Changes to policing priorities need to be done in an open and transparent way, taking account of the specific challenges facing different parts of the country.

While tackling violent crime and domestic violence is clearly important, housebreaking is not a victimless crime, and can have a long-term impact on the violated householder. Possessions can be replaced but you cannot be insured against losing the feeling of being safe in your own home.