Rise in number of criminals carrying knives in Edinburgh

The numbers of criminals found carrying knives on Edinburgh streets has risen by more than a quarter. Picture: PA Wire
The numbers of criminals found carrying knives on Edinburgh streets has risen by more than a quarter. Picture: PA Wire

NUMBERS of criminals found carrying knives on the Capital’s streets has risen by more than a quarter since last year, official police figures published today reveal.

Cases between April and September were up 29 percent on the same period last year - from 99 to 128 - as police swooped on robbers with stop and search powers in hotspot areas.

But crime overall in Edinburgh was down three percent - from 16,924 to 16,415 reports - with drops in housebreaking, vandalism and theft of motor vehicles.

“I don’t want to see anybody in public carrying knives,” said chief Superintendent Gareth Blair. “We’re not seeing a lot of people wandering Edinburgh carrying offensive weapons.”

Mr Blair said the spike was largely down to robbers targeting other criminals, sometimes in their own homes.

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“It’s not necessarily a youth issue. The vast majority of our robberies are carried out by criminals against other criminals,” he added.

Robberies, including attempts, were up five per cent, from 140 to 147, though Mr Blair said a dedicated crackdown since meant 22 fewer victims year-on-year to date.

“Operation Arable has really targeted violent crime, including robberies, with a range of measures - preventative and enforcement action,” he said.

“Violence has always been a problem for Edinburgh but this focused approach is improving the picture,” he added.

Reports of sex crimes were up 21 per cent - from 524 to 636 - driven by historical complaints dating back more than a year.

Indecent and sexual assaults were up 13 percent from 208 to 234 while the number of rapes and attempts were down slightly from 111 to 109 - half of which were historical.

“It’s good that people are coming forward and they have confidence in the police,” said Mr Blair. “They’ve seen the establishment take it seriously. We’d always encourage victims to come forward.”

Housebreakings were down more than a fifth (21 percent) - from 811 to 644 - while motor vehicle crime was down eight per cent from 1,596 to 1,463.

Cases of opportunist thieves smashing car windows to try and steal contents were up a third (33 percent) - from 137 to 182.

But Mr Blair pointed to a “significant downward trend” as the scale of the rise was down from the last quarter’s figures.

“The majority of that was in the south of Edinburgh and we really focused around that area,” he said.

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“We’ve arrested and charged two individuals for the vast majority of them and that clearly contributed to detection.”

Shoplifting was up 11 percent - from 2,100 to 2,324 - and Mr Blair said his officers are working with the retail sector on making life more difficult for thieves.

Fireraising was down 21 percent - from 155 to 123 - and vandalism down by 16 percent - from 2,780 to 2,334.

Mr Blair credited a crackdown on dealers for a rise in supply of drugs crimes by more than a third (36 percent) - from 166 to 225.

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