Rise in recorded sexual crime in Scotland

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Recorded sexual crime was up 13% last year, following new legislation outlawing acts such as circulating intimate photographs.

Sexual crimes increased from 11,092 in 2016/17 to 12,487 in 2017/18 – the highest level seen since 1971.

The Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act came into force in July last year and included new crimes of disclosing or threatening to disclose an intimate image.

Official figures showed overall recorded crime rose 1% to 244,504 crimes in 2017/18, the second lowest level since 1974.

This does not include crimes of handling an offensive weapon, which were only recorded from 2017/18.

The number of non-sexual crimes of violence recorded by the police increased by 1%, as did crimes of dishonesty.

Fire-raising and vandalism was down 2% and other crimes, including those related to drugs, remained at similar levels to 2016/17.

The clear up rate for all recorded crime was 49.5%, showing little change from the previous year.

Scotland’s Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said Scotland’s streets were safer and less violent than a decade ago, and paid tribute to those working in the justice system, NHS and schools to prevent crime.

Mr Yousaf said: “While any small rise in crime is disappointing, we remain focused with the police and other partners on keeping crime at historically low levels.

“That is why we’ve commissioned in-depth research into different aspects of violent crime … to help us better understand where crime is happening, why it is happening and who it is happening to.

“It is also why we have set up an expert group looking at new action to prevent sexual crime, of which we know increases are being driven by a growth in online crime, greater confidence in reporting and a long-term rise in historical cases.”

Deputy Chief Constable Fiona Taylor, Police Scotland, said: “The increase in recorded sexual crime suggests victims feel more confident coming forward to report to us and we want to support and encourage people to continue doing this.

“We will continue working with our partners and communities to improve our ability to keep people safe.”

Scottish Labour’s justice spokesman Daniel Johnson MSP said: “With crime sky rocketing by double digits in some areas, and more than half of crimes going unsolved, it is clear something is going seriously wrong. It is essential the SNP starts giving brave police officers the resources they need to keep people safe.

“But the answer cannot be just more and better policing – this increase is also down to the SNP’s wider failure to invest in our economy, create jobs and tackle poverty.”

His Scottish Conservative counterpart, Liam Kerr, said: “The 1% rise in crime might seem a small number on the face of it, but in reality it translates to thousands of incidents.

“What’s equally worrying is such a stark failure to solve and detect crimes. The police always do the best they can but the SNP simply have to resource them properly.

“The situation in Scotland now is that, should you commit a crime, you have more chance of not being caught than being brought to justice.”

The Liberal Democrat’s Liam McArthur said: “Despite the best efforts of hard working officers and staff, the clear-up rate is now at its lowest level since Police Scotland was established. The first upturn in recorded crime for years is also cause for concern.

“Officers and staff continue to be let down by a lack of resources, the loss of valuable civilian expertise and the reliance on outdated IT systems.”

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