Reported crime rate in Scotland falls by 22%

Police officer holding handcuffs Image copyright PA
Image caption Recorded crime in Scotland has fallen over the past four years.

Reported crime in Scotland has fallen by 22% in the past four years, according to official figures.

However, one in six adults in Scotland was the victim of at least one crime in the year to the end of March 2013.

The Scottish Crime and Justice survey (SCJS) showed that theft or damage to property was the most widely reported crime, making up 71% of the figures.

The SCJS also reported the risk of crime in Scotland to be lower than that in England and Wales.

The survey showed there was a total of 815,000 recorded incidents of crime over the past year. The new figures showed a 22% drop from the 1,045,000 recorded incidents in 2008-2009.

The risk of being a victim of crime also dropped from 20.4% in 2008-2009 to 16.9% in 2012-2013, a drop described as "significant" by the report.

Those living in the most deprived areas were more likely to be a victim of crime.

Violent crime continued to fall, with a 25% drop in recorded incidents since 2008-2009.

However, the public's fear of being the victim of a violent crime such as mugging has increased, with the perceived risk being almost 20% higher than the actual one.

'Increased confidence'

The statistics also showed that public confidence in the police and justice system had increased, with 61% of people saying they believed that their local police were doing a good job.

Over three quarters of people surveyed also believed that the level of crime in their areas had stayed the same or reduced.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: "This survey confirms what we already know. Crime is falling, the risk of being a victim of crime is falling and more people are feeling safer in their communities.

"The chance of being a victim of crime continues to be in lower in Scotland than in England and Wales and violent crime in Scotland has fallen by a quarter since 2008-2009. It is also reassuring to see that confidence in the police and the criminal justice system continues to improve.

He added: "These statistical trends are consistent with recorded crime statistics which show crime in Scotland is at its lowest level in almost 40 years with the 1,000 additional police officers that this government has put in communities protecting the public."

'Areas of concern'

Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont questioned the effectiveness of the survey by saying that many victims of crime did not report it.

He said: "There are a number of areas of concern within these findings. It's clear far too many people are victims of crime, and a significant amount don't even bother reporting it because they don't believe it will be solved.

"There is a big difference in what victims want and what actually happens, and one way the SNP could deal with this is facing up to justice matters and dropping its soft-touch approach."

He then added: "It is extremely rich of the SNP to be bleating about crime and policing rates when it has closed 60% of Scotland's police stations."

Scottish Labour's Community Safety spokeswoman, Elaine Murray said: "While any reduction in crime is to be welcomed, the fact that violent crime is up and only a fraction of crime is reported to the police gives cause for concern.

"The figures also won't reflect the closure of police counters, nor the police officers being taken off our streets to backfill staff roles left empty by SNP cuts.

"I fear that with the loss of local, accountable policing we will see the potential for the overall figures to begin to move the other way and for confidence in our police to fall back", she added.

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