Almost 21,000 Covid-related crimes recorded last year

Annual figures show cyber crime nearly doubled in 2020-21 as national lockdowns affected behaviour.

Almost 21,000 Covid-related crimes recorded last year Getty Images

There were almost 21,000 crimes recorded in Scotland under coronavirus-related laws during the first full year of their existence, the latest figures show.

Annual statistics for the 2020-21 year also show cyber crime levels almost doubled during the pandemic, with 14,130 being recorded throughout the year.

However, overall recorded crime in Scotland remains at historically low levels, continuing a trend observed over the last decade.

The annual Recorded Crime in Scotland report said national lockdowns and other measures to reduce social contact were very likely to have had an impact on the volume and nature of crimes during the year.

A total of 20,976 crimes relating to coronavirus legislation were recorded by police, accounting for 9% of all crime recorded in Scotland.

This figure does not include incidents which were dealt with by police without the need for enforcement.

Most other categories of crime decreased over the 2020-21 year, with a total of 246,511 crimes recorded.

Non-sexual crimes of violence decreased by 4%, while sexual crimes were down by 2%.

Fire-raising and vandalism decreased by 10% while crimes of dishonesty fell by 19%.

The report noted the change in behaviour during the pandemic, such as increased online shopping, was reflected in the higher cyber crime figures.

Cyber crimes rose to 14,130 in 2020-21 compared to 7240 the previous year.

Around a third of all sexual offences were also cyber crimes, the report said.

The number of cyber frauds rose by 149% from the previous year, reaching a total of 8580.

Responding to the figures, Justice Secretary Keith Brown said: “By all main measures, crime, including violent crime, is now considerably lower than it was a decade ago, with fewer victims.

“These statistics show how crime in areas like vandalism and dishonesty, the sorts of crime that affects peoples’ everyday lives, has fallen – with levels not seen since the 1970s.

“There is still work to be done as the figures on cyber crime show – which is why we have this year published a prevention, awareness and enforcement strategy to make Scotland an inhospitable place for scammers.

“And while Covid-19 has no doubt had an impact on the figures, recorded crime was on a downward trend beforehand, and through the measures we recently announced in our Programme for Government, we will continue to make Scotland a safe place to live.”

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