Comment: Why are we solving fewer crimes?

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In the 1980s a number of experts predicted that crime would rise to levels where we would need a massive increase in police numbers to keep us all safe. The rich would live in gated communities patrolled by security guards and supported by CCTV.

But this dystopian existence never materialised. Crime rates have been falling consistently in Scotland, the rest of the UK and indeed across the developed world. From the Netherlands to Japan people are now safer than at any time since the 1970s. In Scotland crime is at a 39-year-low.

The precise reasons are complex and disputed: better policing, higher standards of living, increased security and an ageing population are just some of the reasons posited.

However, it is this consistently falling trend that makes the increase in crime in Edinburgh during the first six months of Police Scotland so noticeable.

In total, 21,670 crimes were committed between April and October 2013, compared with 19,158 in the first six months of the previous year, when Lothian and Borders was in charge.

Separately, the percentage of solved crime – the so-called clear-up rate – has also dipped from 43.3 per cent to 40 per cent.

It would wrong to imagine that the launch of the single force means we are headed for the aforementioned dystopian existence (after all these figures only cover a six-month period) but they should prompt questions.

Why has housebreaking and car theft soared? Why are minor assaults up? And why are we solving fewer crimes?

Has the introduction of Police Scotland led to a shift in priorities and opened up gaps for criminals to exploit?

The full year figures will provide a clearer picture, but Police Scotland chiefs will know that an annual rise in crime following the launch of the new force will not please the public or our politicians.