Sex attacks, muggings and housebreaking on the rise

Muggings are on the rise. Picture posed by models
Muggings are on the rise. Picture posed by models
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Street robberies in the city have spiralled by 30 per cent and the number of drivers caught speeding has doubled – but motor vehicle crime has dropped by a fifth.

Fresh figures for the April-June period this year reflect a varied picture of crime in Edinburgh for city police.

Sex attacks are up 70 per cent. Picture: Posed by models

Sex attacks are up 70 per cent. Picture: Posed by models

There has been a 60 per cent hike in break-ins in comparison with the same period in 2014.

But Edinburgh’s police boss has stressed that an ongoing crackdown on thieves has prompted a month-on-month drop in incidents since March this year.

Chief Superintendent Mark Williams, pictured, said the trends for April-June 2015 were varying, but he vowed to tackle problem areas.

“It’s the first quarter,” he said. “It’s been an incredibly demanding month in August, and last year we had the impact of the Commonwealth Games. I’m hopeful and confident that with the resources we have got, we can make in-roads into some of the areas where we’d rather be performing better.”

The number of vehicle-related crimes dropped by 20 per cent in this quarter; falling from 1013 incidents to 812.

Ch Supt Williams said the decrease appeared to be a “continuing trend” throughout August, while his officers were managing to solve an increasing number of cases.

The unaudited police management figures showed that muggings have increased by around 30 per cent in the first quarter of the year, but Ch Supt Williams said he was “not complacent” about the sobering statistic.

Break-ins were another serious issue in the latest figures, as outlined in the panel to the right. Overall burglaries – including to outbuildings and offices – were up 20 per cent in comparison to the first quarter of 2014/2015.

Ch Supt Williams said his officers were currently solving nearly half of all break-ins, many of which are carried out by “prolific housebreakers”.

He said: “Edinburgh as a community has some really challenging generational issues around thieves, acquisitive crime, and house break-ins in particular, and it’s something that the police won’t solve on its own. I still expect by the end of this year that house break-ins will be down, and lower than they were last year. I’m confident of this.”

He said the problem thieves were being “taken off the streets”. “Tackling house break-ins is our number one priority. Operation RAC is making real in-roads and producing some fantastic results. Drugs, violence and road safety will also remain a focus for the rest of the year.”

FIRE-RAISING

REPORTS of fire-raising have soared by 75.5 per cent compared with April-June last year.

The number of cases hiked from 49 incidents to 86 – and just under a fifth of these were detected by police.

Firebugs have been particularly active in the West and Pentlands area of the city, while a 13.8 per cent increase in vandalism (from 1264-1439) has been most acute in the east area.

Ch Supt Williams said: “We are working closer with the fire service than we ever have. There has been a significant increase in vandalism and fire-raising.”

He said educating young people about the dangers of fire and the impact of vandalism was key to reducing the reports.

“It’s a big nuisance for local people,” he added.

SEX ATTACKS

REPORTS of sexual assaults – including rapes, sexual assaults and lewd practices – are up 70 per cent.

The number of incidents rose from 78 in the first quarter of last year to 133 this year.

The number of cases being solved has remained quite static however, with seven in ten cases being detected.

Ever-increasing reports of online sex crimes and historic incidents are partly to blame for the hike – which police expect to continue.

Historic rapes – classed as incidents which took place more than a year before being reported – account for roughly half of all reports. Other historic sexual assaults make up about 35 per cent of that category.

Edinburgh now has a dedicated full-time rape investigation unit to investigate sex cases.

HOUSEBREAKING

Figures show that domestic break-ins were up 60 per cent in comparison with the first quarter of 2014/2015.

Compared with April-June 2014, there were 211 more reports in the same period this year – 557 in total.

Police solved four in ten cases in that time frame in 2015, compared with almost half of cases in 2014.

However, a further breakdown reveals that the number of incidents has since dropped to a level similar to last year.

In April 2014, there were 83 break-ins in the city but this crept up every month until it peaked to 322 cases in February 2015.

To tackle the hike, police launched Operation RAC, a crackdown focused on targeting prolific thieves.

Figures comparing March this year to last month show that there was a 58 per cent drop in the numbers of break-ins to homes.

The number of break-ins in April was still high at 240 cases, but then reduced to 156 in May and 157 in June, before falling to 133 in July.

Ch Supt Williams said: “The quarterly figures are higher than it was last year – that’s not acceptable. That’s why I’m delighted that we’ve seen a steady reduction since. I’m confident that it will make a difference when we compare year to year statistics.”

SPEEDING

IN an extreme spike, there has been a 100 per cent increase in speeding offences in the Capital this year to date.

While 264 drivers were stopped for a speeding offence in April-June last year, 528 were handed tickets in the 2015 period.

This has been attributed to the fact that community beat officers have now been trained in using hand-held speed guns.

“They are using them more often, they are bringing speed down,” said Ch Supt Williams.

“Speed is a big factor in a lot of incidents. We respond to complaints from the public. If there are concerns about certain streets and areas, we will give it some attention.”

So far, there has been a 20 per cent reduction in casualties on the city’s roads in the 2015/2016 period, with the overall number of people injured or killed dropping from 370 to 295.

DRUGS

THE latest figures reflect a 14.4 per cent rise in total drugs crimes – which Ch Supt Williams is hailing as proof that operations to clamp down on major drug dealers are having an impact.

While there were 603 total drugs crimes in April-June 2014, 690 offences were recovered in the same time period this year.

With support from the national organised crime unit, officers have carried out a series of drugs raids in the city and seized a significant quantity of Class A and B drugs as well as prescription medicine in the wrong hands, or so-called “legal highs”.

Of the drugs offences, police solved 540 of the cases – a 78.3 per cent detection rate.

The figures refer to both the production and supply of illegal drugs across the city, much of which is linked to major organised crime groups.

MUGGINGS

ROBBERIES hiked in the first three months of 2015/2016 – and the majority of these were on-street rather than shops being robbed.

The number of incidents of robberies and assaults with intent to rob went from 47 to 61, equating to a 29.8 per cent increase.

Detectives solved three quarters of these, reflecting a similar trend for the same period last year.

The increase mainly related to a spike in “open space” robberies, where people have been mugged on the street for their mobile phones or cash.

Police have reported a drop in the number of shops being robbed, while a number of incidents also involve criminals stealing from each other due to drugs debts and other feuds.

Ch Supt Williams said: “This can be challenging, it’s not something we’re complacent about.”