Violent crime in Edinburgh falls but ‘sextortion’ and online fraud cases rise

Violent crime in Edinburgh fell by nearly 30 percent in the first six months of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tuesday, 17th November 2020, 7:00 am

New Police Scotland figures show 128 serious assaults were recorded between April 1 and September 30 this year, a fall from 181 over the same period in 2019, and there were also 40 fewer robberies and assaults with intent to rob.

The proportion of these crimes being solved by police has also increased - by more than a quarter in the case of robberies and attempted robberies.

Chief Superintendent Sean Scott, Divisional Commander for Edinburgh, suggests a major factor in lower violent crime is less alcohol fuelled violence linked to the night time economy of a city which usually attracts lots of tourists and people from within Scotland.

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Violent crime has fallen in Edinburgh. Pic: Axente Vilad.

He said: “Because Edinburgh is a transient city compared to most other police divisions, suspects are not known to their victims because of the transient population, which makes a more challenging investigative environment - so that lack of new people to the city (this year) actually makes it a bit less challenging to investigate and to solve.”

The number of recorded murders in Edinburgh has also fallen year on year from four to one.

The latest police figures also showed a rise in the number of recorded rapes, from 81 to 108, but Chief Superintendent Scott confirmed this is linked to police work uncovering a host of historic sexual offences subject to ongoing investigations.

The number of reported sexual assault offences in the Capital has also fallen from 204 to 117 year on year.

Chief Superintendent Sean Scott. Pic: Neil Hanna

Housebreakings have plummeted by nearly 45 percent but break-ins to outbuildings like sheds and garages have rocketed by about 96 percent, although police have focused their efforts on tackling these crimes through lockdown and solvency rates have increased.

Rising crime

This year, there have been a further 16 crimes for taking, distributing or possessing indecent photos of children, while five more crimes for threatening to or disclosing intimate images - sometimes to extort money (sextortion) or to cause a former partner distress (so-called revenge porn) - were also recorded.

Fraud offences in Edinburgh are also up from 700 to 837 year on year, although there has been a general rise in this type of crime across Scotland.

Chief Superintendent Scott said prevention is key to stopping these types of online crimes, saying: “If you are going to post compromising images of yourself to people, even people you don’t know, it increases vulnerability.”

He added: “Fraud is up and people are making more use of the internet and working from home and using websites and communication channels they might not normally have done.

“Criminals can be very convincing with texts from companies and organisations and people need to be extra vigilant and take prevention measures.”

The latest figures also revealed offences involving offensive or bladed weapons rose from 387 to 411. However, the number of crimes for handling a knife fell from 95 to 77.

Drink and drug driving offences increased from 190 to 251 year on year. Chief Superintendent Scott says this is down to offenders being more visible to road policing patrols on quieter roads caused by Covid travel restrictions.