Increase in sex crimes across north bucks national trend

The number of sex crimes committed across the north and north-east has risen, according to official figures.

While the number of sex crimes recorded across Scotland fell to less than 6,500 in 2008-09, the figures for Grampian, the Northern Constabulary area and Tayside increased.

The number of people convicted of crimes of indecency in Scotland rose over the same period, with the Grampian area seeing the sharpest increase.

The figures were given to Liberal Democrat justice spokesman Robert Brown in a parliamentary answer.

Mr Brown welcomed the nationwide reduction, but voiced concern about significant rises in some parts of the country.

According to the statistics there were 6,331 crimes of indecency in Scotland in 2008-09, compared with 6,552 the previous year.

This drop was not seen in figures for northern Scotland however.

Northern Constabulary had a rise in reported sex crimes from 381 to 428, Tayside Police an increase of 19 to 424 and Grampian Police a rise of 25 up to 978 compared to the previous year.

The only other force to report an increase was Lothian and Borders, which was up by 63 to 1,110.

Mr Brown said: “Sex crimes are serious offences that can cause long-lasting trauma to victims, so I’m encouraged that the national picture shows a drop in the number of recorded crimes and a rise in the number of offenders convicted.

“However, positive national statistics will be cold comfort to those living in Grampian, Northern, Tayside and Lothian and Borders police force areas, as they’ve bucked the trend and recorded an increase of sex crimes.”

The number of convictions for crimes of indecency in Scottish courts rose from 790 to 944, with the biggest rise in Grampian, where the total rose from 76 to 179.

Tayside also saw a rise from 54 to 67.

Mr Brown added: “A quick look at the national figures masks serious discrepancies across the country.

“I want to see police boards sharing notes and good practice on tackling sex crime.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Our police already work well across forces and with other agencies to tackle sex crimes and we should all be very grateful for their efforts.

“We are improving the way in which sex offenders are managed.

“Since devolution, three expert reviews and a cross-party inquiry have led to significant reforms to how these individuals are managed and we recently announced the national roll-out of a disclosure pilot that will entitle parents to know if a sex offender has access to their children.”

The spokesman added that links between police, social work and other organisations had helped reduce the risks posed by sex offenders.