Rape and sexual assault crimes soar in Edinburgh and across Scotland as Covid lockdown restrictions ease

Sex crimes in Edinburgh and across Scotland have soared as lockdown restrictions continued to ease.

Friday, 27th August 2021, 4:56 pm
Updated Friday, 27th August 2021, 4:57 pm
Figures show an increase in the number of rapes and sexual assaults reported in Edinburgh and across Scotland.

The latest Police Scotland quarterly figures - between April and June this year - showed 68 rapes were reported in the Capital compared to 51 in the same three month period last year - a rise of just under a third.

Sexual assaults soared by nearly 85 percent year-on-year in Edinburgh, up from 59 to 109 cases.

Across Scotland, the total number of reported rapes increased by more than a third, to 631 cases between April and June, while the number of sexual assaults rose by 56 percent to 965 cases year-on-year.

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Nationwide, a total of 3,720 sexual crimes - both recent and non recent - were recorded, a near 25 percent increase. Cases where there was enough evidence to consider criminal proceedings rose by nearly a third to 2,171.

The Police Scotland report said their latest quarterly figures recorded the highest number of both crimes and detections for sexual crimes in Scotland over the last six years.

Detective Superintendent Fil Capaldi, head of Police Scotland’s sexual crime unit, told the BBC there is a correlation between reporting and lockdown restrictions easing, which may have given people the space to report such as those living with their abuser.

He also said there are a number of “other influencing factors” at play, including the national conversation around violence against women and girls and high-profile reporting of rape and serious sexual ctrime.

Det Sup Capaldi said: "These may have encouraged people to come forward and report what had happened to them.

"As social interaction increases, particularly with the night-time economy, pubs and bars, opening up again, we expect to see a further rise in contact offending."

The senior police officer said rape and serious sexual crime remained vastly under-reported but hoped the recent increase was down to victims having more confidence in law enforcement.

However Sandy Brindley from Rape Crisis Scotland told the BBC she is “worried” by the increase and that it is difficult to tell if there have been more incidents of rape or if more have been reported.

She also said lockdown had a concerning effect initially as women were phoning their helpling from places like cupboards and cars, possibly because they were living with a person raping them or did not want their family knowing about what happened to them.

Ms Brindley also highlighted that rape has the lowest conviction rate for any crime type in Scotland and questioned whether the justice system is acting as an effective deterrent, because if guilty men are walking free to rape again then this will be contributing to the figures.

The latest Police Scotland quarterly figures for West Lothian show the number of reported rapes soared from eight to 34 cases year-on-year. The number of sexual assaults increased from 32 to 34 cases.

Figures for East Lothian show the number of reported rapes tripled - from seven to 21 cases - and sexual assault reports went up from 12 to 23.

In Midlothian, reported rapes fell slightly to nine cases while the number of sexual assaults reported increased slightly to 15.

Other Edinburgh crime trends

Housebreaking in the capital has continued to fall, with the total number of incidents - including attempted break-ins - reducing from 504 to 343. This figure includes both homes and non-domestic dwellings like sheds or businesses.

In Edinburgh, there has been a 16 percent rise in break-ins and attempted break-ins to homes but last year it is thought fewer houses were broken into because more people were at home.

Across Scotland, violent crime has risen year-on-year but this is not reflected in Edinburgh, which has seen an overall fall in offences - from 206 to 193.

This includes zero murders, compared to one last year, nine fewer serious assaults and 16 fewer incidents of robbery and assault with intent to rob. This number also includes threats and extortion which account for more than 15 percent of those offences.

The majority of these are attempts to extort money through online scams. These are often perpetrated overseas and establishing the nature and origin of the offending can be challenging. Tackling this kind of offending is recognised within the force strategic plan as cyber enabled crime increases the need for specialist skills and strengthened ties with other law enforcement agencies across the globe.

The division is also bucking the trend in terms of a rise in fatal road collisions, with one fewer of these tragic incidents being reported.

Police say that while there has been an increase in serious and slight injury collisions, as society moves out of lockdown these numbers remain below the injuries recorded before the pandemic.

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