Unsolved murders: ‘Serious crime is still the exception’

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Police in Lothian and Borders are to re-examine two unsolved murders from the past in an attempt to finally uncover the truth.

For the families of Steven Brown – found dead in a field in Tranent in 1999 – and Billy Sibbald, killed in 2002 and found near the A1 in East Lothian, the announcement is positive news in the long battle to find justice.

Re-examining old cases is now routine practice for the police.

Advances in new technology, particularly in the area of forensics, has helped to uncover fresh evidence that can put those responsible behind bars years after a crime has been committed. Indeed, police never formally close homicides.

The oldest unsolved case in Scotland is that of Janet Henderson, who was found dead at a farm in Forgandenny near Perth in 1866.

The convictions of 
Malcolm Webster, who murdered his wife in a staged car crash in 1994, and serial killer Peter Tobin have demonstrated the resolve of prosecutors to solve killings years after they were committed.

The two most famous unsolved cases are the World’s End murders and that of Bible John.

But what the news should also underline to the public is how rare unsolved murders are in Edinburgh and the Lothians. There are only ten such cases on the books. In Scotland as a whole there are just over 90 such cases.

Serious crime remains the exception for the majority of people. The clear-up rate for homicide is impressive.

Living in a city that not only is safe, but feels safe, is a key element in the quality of life that we all enjoy.

Our police force – which is currently preparing for a future as a single Scottish force – should be applauded for its hard work in making Edinburgh one of the world’s great ­cities.