Nearly 4,000 fewer crimes recorded in Edinburgh but fraud cases rise as criminals ‘shift to more serious offences’

Nearly 4,000 fewer crimes have been recorded in Edinburgh in the latest nine-month period compared to the previous year - but fraud cases have risen as criminals “shift to more serious offences.”

Friday, 5th March 2021, 11:18 am
Updated Friday, 5th March 2021, 1:01 pm

New quarterly figures, from April 1 to December 31, show overall crime in the city has fallen by 3,810 incidents and crime detection has improved by six percent during this time.

With Covid-19 restrictions in place throughout 2020, much of Edinburgh’s population has remained at home for large parts of the year and there have been 287 fewer reports of housebreakings. However, break-ins to businesses, sheds, garages and other outbuildings have risen with 309 more incidents recorded.

There have been about 3,100 fewer “acquisitive” crimes - such as robbery or theft – and motor vehicle crime in particular has fallen with 478 fewer incidents reported.

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But police said there has once again been a rise in fraud offences, with more than 200 extra crimes reported during the third quarter of 2020/21. This increase is in line with the national trend, which is mainly linked to online fraud.

There were also another 49 rapes recorded in Edinburgh, although police detection rates for rape have also increased.

Offences such as serious assaults have fallen year on year from 260 to 180 while there were nearly 800 fewer common assaults. The number of robberies has also fallen from 207 to 161 crimes.

There has been a five percent rise in overall detection for motoring offences and an increase in drivers being detected for drink driving and dangerous driving.

Nearly 4,000 fewer crimes have been recorded in Edinburgh in the latest nine-month period compared to the previous year.

In terms of overall road safety, the city has seen a reduction of 54 serious injury casualties and 305 slight injury casualties. There have been three fatal collisions compared to two in the previous year.

Nationally, overall crimes are also down but there have been notable rises in domestic abuse (1.8 percent), online child sexual abuse (13.4 percent) and fraud (43.4 percent).

Deputy Chief Constable Fiona Taylor said Police Scotland has seen a “shift to more serious offences and increasingly complex and resource-intensive investigations.”

‘Welcome’ fall in crime

Chief Superintendent Sean Scott, Divisional Commander for Edinburgh, said: “While I have no doubt that coronavirus has had some impact on our recorded crime numbers, a fall of almost 4,000 offences is welcome. In particular, I am very encouraged by the fall in acquisitive and violent crime, as well as the significant reduction in road casualties.

“Once again though, I am disappointed by the rise in drink-driving offences and want to make it clear that the chances of being caught driving while under the influence of both alcohol and drugs has never been higher. Please don’t risk it.

“Our continued increase in fraud offences mirrors the national trend and this remains an issue we are working hard to address by promoting crime prevention advice and learning from any new and emerging trends.

“As DCC Fiona Taylor has stated, there has been a reduction in overall crime in recent years but with a shift to more serious offences and increasingly complex and resource-intensive investigations. Policing must continue to enhance our specialist capacity and capability to protect the people of Scotland from threat, harm and risk in the public, private and virtual spaces.

“Edinburgh remains a safe place to live, work and visit and I want to thank all of my officers and staff for their ongoing hard work and professionalism, as well as our communities for their continued support of how we police the Capital.”

The 2020-21 Quarter 3 Performance Report has been published on the Scottish Police Authority website ahead of a public meeting of the Authority’s Policing Performance Committee on Tuesday, March 9.

The report states fraud remains one of the fastest growing and wide ranging crimes across the UK, particularly evident at the start of the pandemic which created opportunities to exploit changes to working and lifestyle conditions and more reliance on technology.

Anti-social behaviour

Across Scotland, it also emerged there were an additional 25,000 phone calls made to police between April and December compared to the same period in the previous year, taking the total number of 999 and 101 contacts to almost two million.

The number of 999 calls reduced by five percent but 101 calls increased by 3.4 percent.

There was a 4.7 percent reduction in incidents reported to police over this period. However, there was a large increase in incidents of public nuisance - up from 56,936 to 123,979 incidents, a rise in neighbour disputes from 16,000 to nearly 23,000 and a rise in noise complaints from 43,288 to 51,277. This is attributed to the challenges presented by the pandemic.

In Edinburgh, the number of anti-social behaviour complaints reported by the public surged from 6,848 to 14,286 year on year.

Lothian and Borders

In the Lothian and Borders police division, overall crime has fallen by 581 incidents and there have been no murders recorded, following the two which happened in the same period in 2019/20.

Housebreakings have also fallen but, unlike in Edinburgh, there has also been a fall in the number of break-ins to businesses, sheds and garages.

There have been 44 fewer rapes and attempted rapes reported in the region but there were 16 more incidents of downloading indecent images of children. The number of incidents of communicating indecently has also doubled.

Police say extensive work has been carried out by the division’s Public Protection Unit to tackle sexual crime which has seen a four percentage point increase in detections to overall sexual offences.

Police also revealed that 423 more domestic abuse offences have been recorded in the region. The force says there has also been an increase in detection rate.

Chief Superintendent John McKenzie, Divisional Commander for the Lothians and Scottish Borders, said: “The vital work of our PPU has seen an increase in detections for sexual offences, however online crime continues to increase such as taking, distributing and possession of indecent images of children and communicating indecently.

"In addition it is noted reported crimes of rape have decreased, however it is recognised that this is an under reported crime type and our specially trained officers continue to work with partner agencies to ensure support is provided to all who wish to report crimes of a sexual nature.”

In Lothian and Borders, there has been a small reduction in the number of drink-driving and speeding incidents occurring. The total number of casualties on the division’s roads have also fallen from 615 to 347.

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