Online credit card fraud and other cyber-enabled crimes continue to be an increasing threat, according to the latest figures issued by Police Scotland. The Quarter 4 Management Information Report provides in-depth information about the service and recorded crime across the country.
The data, while not official statistics, relates mainly to crime recorded by Police Scotland but some information about incidents and some survey data are also included. It covers the period from April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018.
Published alongside this report is a detailed breakdown of data available at police division or local authority level.
A total of 2,515,574 calls were made to Police Scotland and this resulted in 255,504 crimes being recorded. A total of 22,968 missing person investigations were recorded by police in 2017/18 – 4.45% more than in the previous year.
Figures show that while recorded crime has risen slightly year-on-year, it remains below the level recorded at the start of Police Scotland in April 2013 and there were 10,300 fewer crimes in 2017/18 than the five-year average, a drop of 4%.
The most serious violent crimes – murders and serious assaults – are down on the previous year. An increase in common assaults account for most of the increase in overall violent crime, and the majority of the increase in these relate to assaults on emergency workers.
Half of the overall increase in crime is due to a change in crime reporting, which means that when a knife or offensive weapon is used in the commission of a serious crime (such as serious assault or robbery), it is now recorded as a separate crime and not just an aggravation. This change was requested by Police Scotland and was implemented on April 1, 2017.
The new figures show there was a rise in reports of sexual crimes, providing continuing evidence of increasing confidence among victims to report incidents, and there is evidence of an increasing cyber-enabled element to sexual offending. In addition, the number of detections for rape has increased on the previous year and both the three-year and five-year averages.
Fraud has also risen, with a 17.9% year-on-year increase and a total of 8,628 crimes recorded. This reflects an increase in cyber-enabled fraud such as ‘vishing’ and money transfer frauds. Shoplifting has also increased by 9.5%, with 31,321 crimes recorded – the highest level for five years, with many of the crimes relating to the theft of food.
Domestic housebreakings are at their lowest level in five years and the detection rate has also improved, with work under way to target doorstep crime and bogus callers.
The Q4 figures show that the number of deaths on the roads has fallen by 15.1% (from 172 to 146) after education and enforcement work, including safety campaigns highlighting poor driver behaviour. The number of children killed on roads is down 82% from 11 to 2. Since 1995, there has been a 50% fall in road deaths, while traffic levels have increased by 23% over the same period.
The figures show that the number of serious organised crime groups has fallen. The past 12 months has seen two major operations – Escalade and Monchina – result in the conviction of several members of serious organised crime groups. Two people were also subject to the first Trafficking and Exploitation Orders granted in Scotland as a result of Operation Monchina.
Interim Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said: “Our Policing 2026 strategy made it clear that the demands on policing are changing, with many crimes enabled by new technologies.
“Our priority is to keep people safe and we are adapting the way we work to enable us to better respond to the increase in online crime.
“We are investing in our cyber capabilities to ensure we are properly equipped to meet the modern challenges in keeping Scottish communities safe. We have dedicated cyber-crime units and work in partnership with national and international partners to tackle this growing threat.
“Levels of satisfaction and public confidence have remained very high and people will continue to see uniformed officers in their communities. We are moving officers from back office roles onto the frontline, but frontline policing has also moved into the virtual world where an increasing number of crimes are being committed.”