Leader: ‘Next year’s figures will be scrutinised’

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TODAY’S figures showing there were around 7600 fewer crimes committed in the Lothians over the last year is a welcome piece of good news.

That the statistics include big drops in nuisance offences like vandalism is particularly pleasing and is perhaps evidence of targeted community initiatives having a real impact.

The challenge now is to maintain the good work and continue to further lower the number.

Recording the lowest overall crime since 1976 is no mean feat and quite a parting gift from the former Lothian and Borders force.

It has left the new Police Scotland with an even bigger job to maintain this performance, not just in Lothian but across the country where a similar picture has been recorded.

Next year’s figures will be scrutinised to determine the impact of the move to a single national force, and any move in the wrong direction will be seized upon.

Most telling, perhaps, will not be the number of crime reports but the clear-up figures.

The Evening News has already reported on how the number of burglars being caught in the Capital has plummeted after specialist housebreaking teams were scrapped following the arrival of the new force on April 1.

We revealed how only 17 per cent of housebreakings in the Capital had been solved since April – compared with 40 per cent last year.

That could be put down to teething problems and, by the time the next crime figures are revealed, it may be no more than a statistical blip.

If it is repeated, however, then there will be some tough questions to be answered this time next year.

Lothian and Borders, along with other forces across the country, were clearly doing something right to have achieved these figures today.

Police Scotland remains on probation.