Police under fire as 60 percent of crimes unsolved

House break-ins are on the increase. Picture: TSPL

House break-ins are on the increase. Picture: TSPL

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criminals are getting away with six out of ten offences in the Capital after a fall in detection rates in the city.

The crime clear-up rate has increased across Scotland and there have been dramatic improvements in the nation’s other major cities in recent years, but in Edinburgh it has fallen to 40 per cent. That trails behind 52 per cent in Glasgow, 55 per cent in Dundee and 48 per cent in Aberdeen. Only in East Renfrewshire out of 32 local authority areas have police recorded worse results than in the Capital.

Comment: Edinburgh alone is failing to improve

Edinburgh also experienced the biggest rise in recorded crime in Scotland – up 14 per cent on the year to 2013 – with the rest of the Lothians seeing three of the next four biggest rises nationwide. The rises were largely down to a major spike in housebreaking last year and crackdowns on minor public order and motoring offences.

The results prompted claims today that crime-fighting in Edinburgh has suffered “disproportionately” since the merger of eight territorial forces into Police Scotland last April.

A huge proportion of the crime hike seen in Edinburgh in the last year – some three-quarters – relates to housebreaking and other thefts.

It is on housebreakings, thefts and shoplifting – which accounts for one third of all crimes and offences in the Capital – where officers in Edinburgh performed particularly poorly, with less than one in three cases being solved.

That comes after dedicated squads deployed to tackle burglaries were controversially scrapped after the creation of Police Scotland but later reinstated after detection rates plunged to just 17 per cent.

Despite the reintroduction of specialist burglary teams, Ian Murray MP, who represents Edinburgh South, said the Scottish Government figures showed “damage has been done in local communities with the changes to local policing”.

“These disturbing crime statistics highlight that Edinburgh has disproportionately suffered from the creation of Police Scotland,” he said.

“Local groups and community councils have been raising with me their significant concerns about the effective removal of the community beat officers and dedicated housebreaking teams.”

The statistics, released yesterday, also reveal a jump in the number of minor offences reported in Edinburgh. Nearly four times as many miscellaneous offences – largely assaults and breaches of the peace – were reported in the last year, totalling around 322 per 10,000 people. And more than five times as many incidents of speeding, dangerous driving and drink-driving were recorded in the same period.

Councillor Cameron Rose, a former police officer, called on the force to slash “administration and bureaucracy”.

“If you deal with the minor issues then you nip the major stuff in the bud,” he said. “A lot of minor crime is proactive police detection, but Edinburgh’s police need to focus on its solvency rate.

“If that means cutting administration and bureaucracy that would be good.

“One of the biggest ways to prevent crime is to catch the criminals.”

Across Scotland, recorded crime has fallen to its lowest level since 1974, but has spiked by eight per cent in Midlothian.

West Lothian and East Lothian both saw the number of offences rise by five per cent.

Compared with crime levels a decade ago, the Capital appears far safer, with the number of recorded incidents plummeting 32 per cent, but crime clear-up rates have stubbornly refused to follow that downward trend.

Chief Superintendent Mark Williams, the Capital’s most senior officer, defended the force’s record in Edinburgh, hailing a huge drop in robberies and violent crime.

In the first three months of the new force, the number of drivers caught committing motoring offences in the Capital near doubled amid a major crackdown on the roads.

Chief Supt Williams said Police Scotland had prioritised violent crime, domestic abuse, sexual offences, tackling anti-social behaviour and “making our roads safer”.

Since the dawn of the new force, 911 speeding incidents have been recorded, compared with 207 from the same period last year, and traffic safety offences – such as not wearing seatbelts – have nearly tripled.

He said: “We cut the number of kids killed on our roads and supported more victims of domestic abuse and sexual crime than ever before.”

He said the reintroduction of housebreaking teams led to £463,989 worth of stolen property being recovered within a few months, and blamed a “more robust” approach to domestic abuse for heightened crime figures.

He added: “In Edinburgh, the number of common assaults linked to domestic abuse rose by 78 per cent when comparing 2013-14 with 2012-13. This proactive approach also led to large increases in bail offences.”

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: “Recorded crime has fallen for the seventh year in a row and is at its lowest level for 40 years.

“Violent crime is down ten per cent and crimes of handling an offensive weapon (including knives) have reduced by 62 per cent since 2006-7. These strong statistics are backed by over 1000 extra police officers since 2007. It is clear I am inheriting a strong record of achievement in justice.”

kaye.nicolson@edinburghnews.com