Crime returning to pre-lockdown levels, say Police Scotland

Many types of crime are returning to normal rates after falling “significantly” during lockdown, according to latest figures.

Crime has returned to levels seen before the pandemic
Crime has returned to levels seen before the pandemic

Police Scotland said fraud and online child abuse continue to rise “sharply” both year-on-year and when compared with the five-year average.

There were 30,351 violent crimes between April 1 and September 30, 2,655 fewer than the same period the previous year, according to the force’s 2020-21 Quarter 2 Performance Report.

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A return to previous levels was noted in July to September once lockdown eased, the report said.

There was also an increase in assaults on emergency workers, mainly police officers and staff, with an rise of 274 crimes (7%) compared with the same period last year and 20.4% above the five-year average.

Fraud crimes increased 45.4% between April and September compared with the same six-month stretch last year and are 83.4% above the five-year average.

The report said the pandemic has “created opportunities for fraudsters to exploit changed working and lifestyle conditions and the expanded reliance on technology”.

Between April and September there were 7,466 reported crimes of fraud, compared with 5,136 during the same period last year.

There were 1,036 reports of online child sexual abuse, compared with 875 over the corresponding spell in 2019, an 18.4% increase.

Deputy Chief Constable Fiona Taylor said: “The rapid increase in online abuse and exploitation of vulnerable people and children, either for financial gain or for sexual purposes, underlines that policing must continue to operate in public, private and, increasingly, in virtual spaces to provide education, reassurance and enforcement.”

The figures also show the number of recorded sexual crimes between April and September 2020-21 is at its lowest level since 2018-19, with a total of 6,593 crimes.

But the number of domestic abuse crimes rose over the months of July to September 2020.

Over the six-month period, there were 34,103 domestic abuse incidents, a 7.6% increase on the previous year.

Ms Taylor said: “Officers and staff have engaged with members of the public about Covid on over 75,000 occasions to explain rules and guidance, to encourage people to comply and, where necessary, to enforce the law.

“Our fellow citizens have shown high levels of support and co-operation, with the overwhelming majority of people taking personal responsibility to do the right thing."