POLICE Scotland’s outgoing chief constable has branded the Capital the country’s “robbery hotspot”.
Sir Stephen House said a rise in violent street crime is possibly being driven by increases in disposable income and rising alcohol consumption as the economy improves.
Figures released this week showed a 29.8 per cent increase in the number of robberies in Edinburgh between April and June compared to the same three months in 2014.
Sir Stephen said community representatives often do not understand what the crime figures are saying about their areas.
He said: “There are different perceptions. If you want to know where the most robberies are in Scotland the answer is quite simple, they happen in Glasgow. If, on the other hand, you divide that by 10,000 of the population the robbery hotspot for Scotland is Edinburgh, not Glasgow. Glasgow is not far behind, but it’s actually Edinburgh that’s got the robbery problem. You’re more likely to be victimised in Edinburgh through robbery than you are in Glasgow.”
Across Scotland, violent crime increased by five per cent, with the overall increase attributed to 97 more serious assaults, a meeting of the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) heard yesterday.
Home Office research indicates that improvements in the economy have been linked to “an increasing propensity to violence in society”, Sir Stephen said.
During a meeting at which he announced his imminent resignation, he said: “We are seeing an increase in violent crime.
“It’s heavily skewed by common assault, because it’s a much greater proportion of violent crime.
“I think we’re seeing an increase not in domestic disputes, which is going down slightly, but actually in the public space, which is a flip back to where we were.
“For the last few years we’ve been seeing big reductions in public-space violence and we have been more worried about what is going on behind closed doors. That seems to have reversed again and we are not yet in a position to say why.
“We have commissioned some research and we’re looking at a number of potentials, but I don’t want to say that these are the reasons. One potential is that with the economy, some might say, on the upturn again there is a bit more disposable income around.
“I feel there is an increase in public-space violence, and that is often to do with licensing issues and we are looking at that as well, not necessarily at the licencees but people drinking too much.
“There was a report in the paper that said that alcohol consumption has gone up in Scotland, which is not a good sign as far as Police Scotland is concerned and I’m sure for the NHS as well.”