Comment: ‘Edinburgh alone is failing to improve’

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The fastest rising crime rate in Scotland and one of the lowest detection rates. You would be forgiven for thinking that Edinburgh is a dangerous place to live.

We all know that, on the whole, that is far from true. Some neighbourhoods face serious problems and housebreaking remains a big worry in homes across the city.

But the situation is not as bleak as the statistics might suggest.

In fact, the rising crime rate is not all bad news. The big increase in people being charged with relatively minor public order offences, for instance, has to be welcomed. That shows police are making a more determined effort to tackle the anti-social behaviour which blights our streets every weekend. Dealing with minor trouble, rather than moving it along, helps to nip bigger problems in the bud, but inevitably has a negative impact on crime statistics.

The huge rise in road traffic offences is more controversial, with critics accusing the police of deliberately picking on easy targets in order to get results. However, as long as these efforts are properly targeted, then action which makes our roads safer has to be a good thing.

The mistakes that have been made in tackling housebreaking are well documented, but quick action, at least, has been taken to reverse that situation.

There is one area of serious concern, however, and that is the poor crime clear-up rate in the Capital. Aberdeen, Glasgow and Dundee have all succeeded in dramatically improving their detection rates over the last 15 years. Edinburgh is alone in not only failing to improve, but slipping back.

Crime rates are at their lowest for two generations. There are more officers on our streets than for many years and better technology to assist them. This is a time when the police should be taking the fight to the criminals and making major in-roads in detecting crime. We need to know why this isn’t happening in Edinburgh.