Crime spike in Scotland as country emerges from Covid lockdowns

Violent crime has risen, whilst sexual crimes continue to be recorded at high levels.

Crime spike in Scotland as country emerges from Covid lockdowns iStock
Crime statistics were published by Police Scotland in its latest performance report.

Violent crime in Scotland has risen as the country emerges from coronavirus restrictions, official statistics indicate.

The number of sexual crimes also continue to be recorded at high levels, according to figures published in Police Scotland’s latest performance report.

Statistics published in the report show there were 32,328 reports of overall violent crime between in the year to date – higher than last year’s figure (30,0538) when there had been reductions in such offences.

The report notes that there was reduced levels of crime last year largely as a result of Covid-19 lockdowns.

It stated that the increase against last year is largely driven by higher levels of common assault, with 29,500 of these crimes recorded during the period – a 6.6% increase compared to the previous year (27,682).

The re-opening of licenced premises and large gatherings has been a contributing factor in the rise, the report said.

There was also a slight rise in the number of serious assaults (1833) this year when compared to 2020/21, with an additional 16 crimes.

The statistics showed that other crimes such as attempted murder and robbery remain slightly below last year’s levels.

A decrease of 3.8% on last year was recorded for weapons offences, with 5611 during the period.

The number of overall sexual crimes also rose, with 7519 reported in the first two quarters of 2021-22, up 13.4% year on year (6629) and up 17.3% on the five year average.

Figures for the number of reported rapes (1229) also increased by 12% (132 crimes) against last year (1097), and by 13.5% against the five year mean.

The majority of recent rapes were reported within two days of them being committed, whilst the number of recent rapes reported year to date is the highest noted during the last six years.

There has been a decrease of 9.6% in the number of online child sexual abuse crimes recorded (932), down by 99 crimes on last the period last year (1031).

Police Scotland figures also showed that the number of domestic incidents have decreased by 6%, with 2062 fewer incidents compared to last year.

Drug supply crimes (2198) have also decreased by 5.7% compared to the same period last year (2332), whilst drug possession (13,542) this year also fell by 15% on the previous period (15,937).

Deputy chief constable Fiona Taylor said: “As has been publicly underlined by the chief constable, the summer period presented an exceptional level of demand on officers and staff, including displaced demand from key partners who continue to operate under critical pressure.

“The demand and challenges experienced in our Contact, Command and Control (C3) Division has led to increased 101 average answer times as we continue to prioritise emergency 999 calls.

“We have introduced changes to overtime payments for service centre staff as part of a range of measures to manage the ongoing high demand on our non-emergency 101 service.

“We anticipate these changes will increase uptake of overtime and further support our ability to manage peaks in demand.

“Additionally, we are taking steps to support local policing and, by way of example, Flexible Response Unit officers have returned to their local policing divisions for the foreseeable future.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Recorded crime remains at one of the lowest levels since 1974 and is down 41% since 2006-07 and homicide levels are at their lowest level since 1976.

“In response to the pandemic, we increased Victim Support Scotland’s Victims’ Fund to £100,000 to help meet immediate financial needs of the most vulnerable victims.

“Over the long term, we have seen a significant reduction of police recorded non-sexual violent crime of 36% between 2006-07 and 2020-21.

“The Scottish Government’s Equally Safe Strategy sets out Scotland’s ambition to tackle all forms of violence against women. 

“In recent years we have redoubled efforts to address sexual offending and online harms in particular.

“This includes record funding to prevention programmes and new funding of £5m to rape crisis centres and domestic abuse services to help cut waiting lists in specialist support services.”