Heatwave blamed for rise in violent crime

Domestic violence has increased in the hot weather. Picture (posed by models): Julie Howden
Domestic violence has increased in the hot weather. Picture (posed by models): Julie Howden
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THE heatwave was today blamed for a spike in crime, with levels of domestic violence soaring alongside record temperatures.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court has been swamped with cases following two blistering weekends of sunshine, with the number of prisoners appearing from custody nearly doubling.

A total of 98 people held in police station cells appeared at the court last Monday while another 80 followed a week later. The average for weekend custody case appearances on a Monday is between 40 and 50.

A court source said: “Custody cases have nearly doubled on the last two Mondays.

“Many were domestic and that’s likely to be linked to the weather. People have been drinking more.”

Detective Chief Inspector Willie Guild, of Police Scotland, said tackling domestic abuse is a “top priorities” for the force.

He said: “An increased focus on holding abusers to account for their criminal conduct has contributed to a steady rise in custody cases since the formation of Police Scotland.

“In addition, the establishment of specialist Domestic Abuse Investigation Units in every local division has contributed significantly to this enhanced response. While there is likely to be a combination of factors surrounding the increase in custody cases, the priority given to tackling domestic abuse by Police Scotland is thought to play a significant role.”

The heatwave has seen other violent incidents linked to the city’s unusually hot July. Around 60 drunken youths fought on Portobello’s promenade at the weekend as temperatures hit 28C.

Cary Cooper, a professor of organisational psychology and health at Lancaster University, said domestic violence figures usually peak at Christmas, New Year, and on Bank Holidays.

However he said: “Hotter weather can change people’s behaviour. They may be socialising more and that can involve drinking more.

“If they are someone who already has a predisposition towards violence then excessive drinking brings that out. The hotter weather can also make people more irritable, quick to anger, impatient, and they may take out frustration on those around them.”

Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont feels it is too easy to scapegoat factors like the weather when it comes to domestic violence. He said: “Blaming the weather for this rise may feel suitable, but it plays into the hands of those who don’t want people to be responsible for their own actions. A family barbecue in the sun turning sour is not an excuse for domestic abuse. The heat is not an excuse for those who did end up spending a weekend in the cells.”

Barbara O’Donnell, deputy chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said: “Alcohol-related violence, whether at home or in public places, is completely unacceptable. ”

A Crown Office spokesman said domestic abuse was taken “extremely seriously” by the court. He added: “Anyone arrested for such an offence can expect to find themselves appearing before the domestic abuse court in Edinburgh, where specialist trained staff will deal robustly with these offences.”