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Community / Crime rates falling but committee says ‘not good enough’

Preventative strategy pays off according to chief inspector Lindsay Tulloch

SHETLAND is becoming an increasingly safe community from crimes and fires, the latest figures show, but crime detection rates have also fallen.

Shetland police area commander Lindsay Tulloch. Photo: Shetland News

Outlining generally positive rates for reported crime, chief inspector Lindsay Tulloch said that successful detections had fallen to 70 per cent, a situation that prompted community safety and resilience board chairman Alastair Cooper to say it was “not good enough”.

Cooper and vice-chairman Allison Duncan called for a return to the detection high of 81 per cent that had been achieved a few years ago.

Cooper said: “That’s not good. As a community we should be striving to keep those figures up.”

Tulloch said that the local police force’s preventative strategy was successful. While crime rates were lower for most categories, the fall in detection rates could be linked to a number of areas of crime that were difficult to solve.

He said later that over the last five years there had been “quite a significant decrease in reported crime”, and that this could be attributed to “the preventative work that we have been able to do”.

“It is a positive picture for Shetland in relation to the decrease in reported crime, but some of the crimes reported to us are difficult to detect and that’s where you have seen a slight decrease in detection figures,” Tulloch said.

While assaults cases are down, the number of sexual crimes reported increased from 16 to 27, but Tulloch linked this to the preventative work done by police and partner agencies in making people feel safe with reporting these crimes.

Many of these reports were historic in nature, making investigation and subsequent prosecution more difficult, he said.

“To me the most important thing is ensuring that the victims of these types of crimes get the support to move on.”

According to a report on policing performance, no one was killed on Shetland’s roads in 2018/19, in the year to date, compared to one the previous year. Drink driving offences are down slightly, but speeding offences have near doubled to 107.

The seasonal drink driving campaign had yielded only four arrests from 170 stoppages. This was against a national picture of drink driving increase, especially in young males.

The lack of overall reduction in road offences meant that the police would be maintaining their levels of presence.

Assaults are down from 105 to 84, breach of the peace incidents down from 60 to 51and drug offences are near stable at 88; something Tulloch attributed to the continuing availability and supply of drugs.

He said that a near doubling of police visits to licensed premises from 821 to 1,608 had played a part in reducing rowdy and violent behaviour in Lerwick. Vandalism offences had dropped from 81 to 62.

Thefts from dwelling houses and garages have doubled to eight, shoplifting was down from 20 to eight, and theft from motor vehicles fell from 15 to six.

Domestic abuse incidents fell from 98 to 78 but hate crimes rose from one to seven.

There had been a number of arrests in the mainland in the organised crime category, involving drug busts for consignments intended for Shetland, the police report said.

Dwelling fires in Shetland dropped from 10 to two and there were no injuries or fatalities from these compared to four last year.

Non domestic fires remained stable at five, but deliberate fire raising rose from one to three, according to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service quarterly report.