Sex crime spike partially due to Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, police claim

25 February 2019, 17:10 | Updated: 25 February 2019, 17:21

Child abuse

Sex crimes have risen while violent crimes have fallen, Police Scotland's latest figures indicate.

The "cruel and unnatural" treatment of children highlighted by the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry was said to be partially behind a 7.2% increase in recorded sex crimes in April and December 2018 compared to the same period in 2017.

The ongoing inquiry is investigating the abuse of children in care in Scotland.

Police Scotland recorded 1,795 rapes and attempted rapes in April to December 2018, up 101 (5.9%) on the same period in 2017.

Overall violent crime has fallen 1.6%, largely driven by a drop in common assaults of more than 844 to 43,635 and a fall in serious assaults by 53 to 3,024.

Group one violent crimes, which includes killings, serious assault and robbery, rose by 7.9% to 6,015 with an increase in recorded murders from 40 to 48 and attempted murders up from 181 to 235.

Recorded threats and extortion crimes rose by 39% to 340, while threats to publish explicit images jumped from 248 to 415.

Meanwhile domestic housebreaking fell 3.4% to 5,266 recorded crimes - its lowest level in five years, down just under a fifth (19.5%) on the five-year mean.

The figures for April to December 2018 show recorded crime in groups one to five was down by more than 3,000 compared to the same period the previous year, an 0.4% drop and a 2.5% fall on the five-year average.

Meanwhile, detection rates for these crimes rose marginally from 49.3% to 50.4% in the same period.

Deputy Chief Constable Fiona Taylor said: "While the reduction in overall violent crime is to be welcomed there have been increases in certain crime classifications and we are not complacent.

"Some of the increase in non-sexual violent crimes can be attributed to more reports of cruel and unnatural treatment of children attributable to the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry.

"Another area of group one crimes which increased are crimes of threats and extortion. Many of these are cyber related crimes where threats have been made to disclose images of a sexual nature on social media.

"Any violent crime is unacceptable and local action plans and specific operations are in place to ensure it is tackled robustly."

She added: "It is encouraging to see overall crime is down and detection rates have increased in the last year.

"A reduction in domestic housebreaking means fewer citizens face what can be a harrowing and invasive experience."

The figures are from Police Scotland's management information and performance report for the quarter, which the force said are not official statistics but provide in-depth information about crime across the country.

The report indicates the proportion of people satisfied with how the force dealt with incidents has risen marginally up 1.4% percentage points to 81.4%.

Between April and December 2018 Police Scotland received 1,879,294 calls to report 1,305,892 incidents.

The report will be discussed at the Scottish Police Authority Board Meeting on February 28.