Scotland crime falls to lowest level in 29 years

Labour says 2 per cent drop is not enough when compared with rest of UK
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The Independent Online

Recorded crime in Scotland has dropped to its lowest level since 1980, statistics published yesterday showed.

The number of reported crimes in 2008-09 fell to 377,483, down 2 per cent on the previous year, itself the lowest level since the mid 1980s, and marks a 10 per cent drop since the Scottish National Party were elected in 2007. Violent crime, sexual offences and vandalism all fell, but there were slight increases in fraud and theft.

Government officials were pleased with the figures but Labour said it marked only a 2 per cent reduction – significantly less than than in England and Wales – and claimed that ministers were losing the fight on crime.

The report from Scotland's chief statistician showed reports of crime to all eight police forces had fallen. Dumfries and Galloway recorded an 11 per cent drop.

The Scottish Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill, welcomed the figures, but said there was more to do. "For the second year in a row, crime in Scotland is down to the lowest level in nearly 30 years. With record numbers of police officers tackling crime and serving our communities, this Government is working to make Scotland safer and stronger.""

Violent crimes in 2008-09 fell by 2 per cent on the previous year to 12,612. Sexual crimes fell by 3 per cent to 6,331. Recorded cases of rape and attempted rape fell by 9 per cent to 963.

The Scottish Labour justice spokesman, Richard Baker, said Scotland was making less progress than other home nations in tackling crime. "The SNP soft-touch agenda on crime and justice isn't working when we see only a 2 per cent drop in Scotland in crime – a very small decrease indeed – whereas in England and Wales we've seen a 5 per cent drop."

The Conservative Gavin Brown said that his party could claim credit for the drop in crime. "These figures are moving in the right direction. The Government's main policy for justice was to put 1,000 extra police on the beat – pushed by the Scottish Conservatives. Without that, who knows what would have happened with these stats."

The figures showed that "crimes of dishonesty", which include burglary, theft and forgery, increased slightly to 167,812 cases. This figure had been falling for a decade.

Recorded cases of vandalism also decreased by 7 per cent to 109,430.

Other recorded crimes, including drug and weapons offences, decreased very slightly to 81,248.

The clear-up rate for recorded crime in 2008-09 was 49 per cent, 1 per cent higher than the previous year, and the highest in 20 years. The clear-up rate for non-sexual violent crimes increased from 62 per cent to 64 per cent.

But "crimes of indecency", the term applied to indecent practices towards children, were less likely to be solved, with the clear up rate falling from 72 per cent to 68 per cent.