Wednesday, October 26, 2005


One crime every 30 seconds in Scotland MICHAEL HOWIE
RECORDED crime rose to its highest ever level in Scotland last year, according to new figures.
A total of 1,071,075 incidents, from serious crimes such as murder and rape to lesser offences like speeding and breach of the peace, were logged by the country's eight police forces in 2004-5 - 5 per cent up on the previous year's figure of 1,021,835.

The latest figures represent two crimes every minute.
Less serious crimes such as vandalism, petty assault and breach of the peace saw the biggest overall rises. The Scottish Executive said this was due to a new police recording system, introduced last year, which meant corroborative evidence was no longer required for police to log a complaint as a crime.
But, alarmingly, race crimes jumped from 3,097 to 3,856 in the past year. The figure has nearly quadrupled since the concept of racially aggravated crime was introduced into Scots law in 1999. Officials admitted the new system gave a better indication of actual crime levels. That led opposition politicians to describe the reality of crime in Scotland as a "grim picture".
Overall, non-sexual violent crimes fell by 3 per cent to 14,700 - but sex offences jumped 8 per cent to 7,324, with rapes and attempted rapes, at 1,109, hitting a record high. The number of offences in which a firearm was fired and killed or caused injury rose from a ten-year low of 242 in 2003 to 325 in 2004.
Meanwhile, the Crown Office disclosed that the proportion of cases where no action was taken by procurator fiscals was falling, from 18.5 per cent last year to 16 per cent for the first quarter of this year. The crime clear-up rate fell from 47 to 45 per cent, again, said officials, because of the new method of recording.
Cathy Jamieson, the justice minister, insisted the Executive was making progress, but added: "There is much more to do."
She cited the new Police Bill, which would give officers more power to deal with knives.
She continued: "Communities are still plagued by vandalism and anti-social behaviour.
"No-one should underestimate the debilitating impact that anti-social crimes like graffiti and smashed bus shelters have on communities - and that is why it is important that our crime statistics do not underestimate its frequency."
Kenny MacAskill MSP, the justice spokesman for the Scottish National Party, said: "We are now seeing the true level of crime in Scotland, and it is a grim picture. What is needed is a more visible police presence."
A spokeswoman for the Commission for Racial Equality in Scotland said: "Today's figures demonstrate just how widespread and deeply-rooted racism is in Scotland.
"The police have made progress in encouraging people to report racist crimes, but that doesn't change the bottom line - which is that more than ten racist incidents are being reported in Scotland every day.
"Many people from ethnic minority backgrounds experience racist taunts and abuse which they don't report to the police. The Executive is taking some action in this area, [but] we believe this would be more effective if they were to develop an overarching framework which brings together all of their initiatives to promote good race relations."
Scotland's police chiefs said that while the figures looked worse, they reflected the new method of reporting.
Peter Wilson, the president of the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland, said forces in England and Wales had experienced similar increases when they adopted the new system.
"This is not because more crime is being committed - it is because more crime is being recorded by police," he said.
He added: "Communities are no less safe as a result of this change to recording practice.
"Improvements in call handling also mean that more calls are answered, and more crimes recorded.
"It was always suspected that crime such as vandalism would show an unnatural increase following the introduction of the standard and that has proven to be the case across the country."

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