5. Commentary: Recorded crimes and offences by police force
This section refers to figures published in the bulletin, supplemented by commentary provided by the individual police forces.
Chart 4 Total number of crimes recorded per 10,000 population in 2007/08 by police force area
The total number of crimes recorded in the Central police force area decreased by 7 per cent between 2006/07 and 2007/08 to 19,825 (see table 5). There were decreases in the number of crimes and offences in all but two groups (there were increases in the crimes of indecency and miscellaneous offences groups). The main decreases were in the fire-raising and vandalism group and the non-sexual crimes of violence group.
The Force has said that an increase was noted in terms of the reporting of historical cases of lewd and libidinous practice charges within the crimes of indecency group. These historical cases are carefully investigated with a strong focus on victim care and invariably result in other victims being identified and numerous charges being preferred against an individual accused. There is no identified reason for the reduction in fraud charges. Occasionally one accused can be responsible for a substantial number of this type of crime i.e. multiple cheque book or credit card frauds using the same book or card at different locations, which can have an impact on the statistical picture. An increase in the number of satellite navigation systems installed in motor vehicles have had an impact on the number of vehicles currently being targeted. Pro-active policing methods, including high visibility patrols at key times at known hot spots, has assisted in the reduction of crimes within the vandalism and handling offensive weapons groups. The vast majority of speeding offences are now detected by the force Safety Camera Partnership Unit. Changes to operating equipment and staffing issues have contributed to reduced activity by the mobile camera units.
5.2 Dumfries & Galloway
Crimes recorded in the Dumfries & Galloway police force area decreased overall by 12 per cent between 2006/07 and 2007/08 to total 8,389 (see table 5). There were decreases in all but one crime groups (crimes of indecency increased by 6 per cent), with crimes of dishonesty decreasing substantially (a 19 per cent fall).
The Force noted that, whilst there is no significant variance in this group, serious assaults have risen significantly from 66 to 95 (43.9 per cent) on the previous year (see table 8). There is no underlying trend. There is no significant variance in the 'crimes of indecency' group either. However the two categories which have recorded a substantial rise from the previous year are indecent exposure (up from 14 to 25) and defilement of girl under 16 (up from 7 to 13). There has been a significant decrease across most of the crime categories in the 'crimes of dishonesty' category in comparison with last year and also the 3-year average. The arrest of one or two individuals, who are prolific offenders, can have a significant impact on crimes such as housebreaking and motor vehicle crime. Fraud continues to be one of the crimes in this category which has increased. In the main it can be attributed to persons coming through the ports at Stranraer and being charged with crimes under the Identity Cards Act. The 'fire-raising/vandalism' group has also seen a marked decrease due to the number of successful initiatives targeting antisocial behaviour (including vandalism). Within the 'other crimes' category, supply and possession with intent to supply and possession of drugs are the only two crimes to have increased on the previous year. Cannabis cultivation throughout the UK is a trend that appears to be causing concern and this is reflected in Dumfries and Galloway.
Whilst the number of miscellaneous offences has decreased, with both minor assaults and breach of the peace falling considerably, the introduction of the test purchase scheme and antisocial behaviour tickets have made a significant impact on some of the other offences in this group (such as urinating and drunk and incapable). There was a significant decrease in the number of road traffic offences which can primarily be attributed to the change in strategy for the deployment of the Safety Camera Partnership. However, significant increases in offences such as dangerous and careless driving and other irresponsible driver behaviour has resulted from operations such as 'Encompass'.
The number of crimes recorded in the Fife police force area decreased overall by 16 per cent between 2006/07 and 2007/08 to total 25,362 (see table 5). Crimes of indecency increased in 2007/08 by 23 per cent whereas all of the other crime groups showed a decrease.
Fife saw a decrease in each category in the 'non-sexual crimes of violence' section, the biggest relating to serious assaults which were down by 79 to 501 in 2007/08. Violent Crime was and still is a priority for Fife Constabulary and analysis of problem areas and the delivery of NIM profiles for these types of crimes has resulted in resources being directed to specific areas at peak times which, in turn, acts as a deterrent to offenders. The increase in the crimes of indecency group, specifically Lewd and Libidinous Practices, which was up by 144 in 2007/08, is mainly attributed to a shift in focus. An increasing number of survivors of childhood sexual abuse are contacting specialist officers in Fife Constabulary even though the abuse happened between 10 and 30 years ago. There was a significant decrease in the number of crimes of dishonesty, in particular to the 'theft by housebreaking: domestic dwelling and non-dwelling' sub-group. Domestic housebreaking is a priority this year for the division which experiences the majority of these crimes. There have been a number of initiatives undertaken by the Force during the year to actively reduce the number of crimes of fire-raising/vandalism etc. Glenrothes saw a 75 per cent reduction in anti-social behaviour incidents following a new education initiative for the town's high school pupils. The number of 'other crimes/miscellaneous offences' recorded to the Force has generally decreased from last year. However, the number of drunk and incapable offences increased from 271 to 392 compared to the same period last year.
The number of recorded crimes in the Grampian police force area decreased by 10 per cent between 2006/07 and 2007/08 to total 35,688 crimes (see table 5). There were decreases in all crime groups except the 'other crimes' group (which increased by 6 per cent). The main decreases were in the 'fire-raising/vandalism' group (15 per cent decrease), the 'crimes of dishonesty' group (13 per cent decrease) and the 'non-sexual crimes of violence' group (12 per cent decrease).
Overall crimes of indecency have decreased. There was a rise in Indecent Assaults, which was the only rise in this group. The reporting of these types of crimes could reflect increased confidence in complainers feeling able to approach the Police. Crimes of dishonesty decreased markedly in 2007/08, with particular decreases in Housebreaking and Theft by opening a lockfast place ( OLP). Domestic Housebreaking was previously a Force Priority for a number of years and during this period, this crime type received significant focus of resources. Due to this focus, significant reductions were achieved over a number of years and it is no longer a Force Priority, although such intelligence led practices remain strong in all divisions and are now 'day business'. These practices are also the reasons behind the decrease in Theft by OLP, Theft from Motor Vehicles, Theft of Motor Vehicles and Other Thefts. Vandalism has received a large amount of focus over the last few years, under the Force Priority of Community Well-Being. The total number of speeding offences is a combination of those recorded by Grampian Police, and those recorded by the North East of Scotland Safety Camera Partnership ( NESCAMP). Over the last few years, a strong intelligence-led approach has been adopted within the Roads Policing Department, in close conjunction with the engagement of divisional officers across the Force, with a focus on the Force Priority of Reducing Road Casualties.
5.5 Lothian & Borders
Recorded crime in the Lothian & Borders police force area decreased by 10 per cent to total 70,754 (see table 5). There were decreases in all of the major crime groups in 2007/08, ranging from 4 per cent in non-sexual crimes of violence to 15 per cent in crimes of indecency.
Analysis of the crimes within the crimes of indecency group detail that the majority of crime types within this group have decreased, the one exception being Indecent Assaults. Worthy of note are the reduction in the crime types of rape and attempted rape. There has been a significant decrease in theft of a motor vehicle (21 per cent), with every local authority experiencing a marked reduction in this crime type when compared to the previous year. Increased car security may explain this but no detailed analysis has been done to identify any pattern or trend. The drop in the number of offences seems to be a trend occurring throughout Scotland not just within Lothian and Borders according to analysts from the other safety camera partnerships. This could be due to increased awareness and consistent speed campaigns to help educate the public. There was also a considerable drop in offences when we took a more intelligence led approach to deployment after all of our sites were re-assessed and ranked using a 'traffic light system' according to the number of collisions and high speeds at each site.
The number of crimes recorded in the Northern police force area decreased by 7 per cent between 2006/07 and 2007/08 to total 16,131 (see table 5). There were decreases in all crime groups in the latest reporting year.
There was an overall decrease in non-sexual crimes of violence during the previous reporting year 2006/07. In 2006/07, Serious Assaults increased compared with the previous year. In particular, during the summer months of 2006, there was a marked increase in these crimes. It is assessed that the advent of the FIFA 2006 World Cup during the summer of 2006 may have led to a temporary increase in Serious Assault. Typically, during such events, increased numbers of persons attending licensed premises and drinking alcohol for prolonged periods can result in alcohol fuelled violence. This goes some way to explaining the drop in the number of crimes in this group in 2007/08. Binge drinking and alcoholism pose a problem to the Force in terms of increasing violent crime. Northern Constabulary and its multi-agency partners are committed to tackling the root causes of violence and alcohol abuse. A long-term multi-agency approach is key to tackling this issue and bringing about attitudinal change. Tackling violent crime continues to be a high priority issue for the Northern Constabulary Control Strategy. Theft by opening a lockfast place ( OLP) was seen to decrease during 2007/08. This perceived decrease is actually due to an increase in Theft by OLP which occurred during 2006/07. This increase was the result of a fraud involving ATM card transactions in the Lochaber area which resulted in over forty crimes of Theft by OLP. A decrease in crimes relating to Theft of Motor Vehicles was experienced during 2007/08 compared with 2006/07. During 2006/07 there were a number of incidents of Theft of Motor Vehicle which involved multiple accused and therefore multiple charges. This goes some way to explaining the drop in the number of crimes in this group in 2007/08.
The number of recorded crimes in Strathclyde police force area decreased by 6 per cent between 2006/07 and 2007/08 to total 182,456 (see table 5). Most of the main crime groups decreased this year, although there was a slight increase (1 per cent) in crimes of indecency.
The Force has noted that there has been a decrease in crimes of dishonesty, particularly 'housebreaking' and 'theft of motor vehicle'. This is part of a long-term downward trend in crimes of dishonesty. There was a 10 per cent increase in the number of motor vehicle offences in 2007/08, with a particular increase (20 per cent) in the level of speeding offences. This represents a return to the level of 'speeding' two years ago in 2005/06. It is noted that the level of speeding may have 'bottomed out' last year. There has been an 8 per cent decrease in non-sexual crimes of violence, with robbery falling in particular by 15 per cent. This is part of a long-term trend in reducing crimes of robbery. The level of these crimes steadied last year, but there were year-on-year reductions in the three years before that.
The number of recorded crimes in the Tayside police force area decreased by 8 per cent in 2007/08 to total 26,904 (see table 5). There were decreases in all of the major crime groups in 2007/08, ranging from 4 per cent in crimes of dishonesty to 18 per cent in other crimes.
There was a decrease of 32.7 per cent in the crime of theft by opening a lockfast place. The decrease in this type of crime was due, in the main, to changes in recording practices governing the use of stolen bank cards. Crimes under the category Theft from a Motor Vehicle increased by 32.5 per cent in 2007/08. Valuable portable items, especially satellite navigation systems, left in unattended vehicles accounted for the increase in this category. There has been a decrease of 16 per cent in Crimes of Indecency, predominantly due to a decrease of 36 per cent in Lewd and Libidinous practices from 188 last year to 120 this year. Fluctuations from year to year in this group are often as a result of the reporting of historical crimes. Crimes against Public Justice have decreased by 18.7 per cent. Initiatives in earlier years produced high results and sent out the message that contravention of bail conditions would not be tolerated. It was inevitable (and desirable) that these numbers would fall as time progressed and offenders learned to take their conditions of bail seriously. The 18.5 per cent fall in the number of drugs crimes recorded was not due to the inactivity of the police; at the end of March 2008 the force was involved in a number of long-running, high level drugs operations targeting organised crime groups. There was a decrease of 15.1 per cent in the number of motor vehicle offences in 2007/08. Tayside Police participates in all National Road Safety Campaigns and every opportunity is taken to publicise issues including drink/drug driving, speeding/inappropriate speed and the wearing of seat belts. Tayside Safety Camera Partnership continues to influence driver behaviour by publicising locations and routes which have an identified collision and speed related history. As illustrated above, continuous work on the education of road users is reflected in the 2007/08 end of year results where there is evidence of decreases in many areas when compared to 2006/07.
Chart 5 Number of crimes of domestic housebreaking 1 recorded by the police per 10,000 population in 2007/08
1 Includes dwellings and non-dwellings only