Serious assaults and thefts in the city plummeted during lockdown – but housebreakings and domestic abuse rose, new figures show.
Police Scotland has released its performance report for the third quarter of the 2020/21 year – covering the period from April 1 until December 31 – giving a snapshot into how the coronavirus pandemic has affected crime levels.
And figures also show the crime detection rate across the north-east has continued to rise, with the number of recorded crimes falling across the board compared to the same period last year.
Types of crimes in Aberdeen
In Aberdeen the number of serious assaults recorded between April and December last year was 99, with 93 detected – 93.9%. This compared to 119 recorded the previous year, with 108 detected, a rate of 90.8% .
While figures for theft offences also dropped with the number of shoplifting crimes recorded as 1,097 compared to 1,548 in 2019/20. For common theft the figure was 783 compared to 946.
However, the number of housebreakings recorded increased from 268 to 328. There was also an increase in domestic abuse incidents recorded going from 1,889 to 1,969.
Attempted murders in the city also rose from eight in 2019/20 to 20 in 2020/21 – all of which were detected. Instances of robbery and assault with intent to rob also increased, from 59 to 75.
Impact of Covid on policing
Divisional Commander Chief Superintendent George Macdonald said: “The public health crisis continues to influence the needs of our communities, and this has resulted in a change in demand on policing.
“While crimes of violence, crimes of dishonesty and offences committed on our roads all decreased during this quarter three period, there has continued to be a significant increase in areas such as fraud and online offences. These are increasingly complex and resource-intensive investigations, and we remain committed to protect people from harm in public, private and virtual spaces.
“As I continue to stress, it could be many years before we fully understand the impact of coronavirus on crime and the demand on policing generally in Scotland. As much as I welcome a decrease in the types of crime that can have a significant impact on our communities, it must be appreciated that these figures have been recorded during an unprecedented time.
“Violent crime is not tolerated and we work extremely hard alongside our partners to prevent and reduce incidents that cause harm to our communities. We cannot underestimate the effects violent crime can have on victims and the wider community, and it is crucial that we are always on the front foot and do what we can to prevent incidents of crime before they have a chance to happen.”
Crimes recorded across the North East division
Across the North East division a total of 99.7% of drug crimes in the period between April and December were detected, alongside more than 400 crimes involving offensive or bladed weapons.
Non-sexual crimes of violence fell from 722 in 2019/20 to 722 in 2020/21, with 524 of those detected – a 63.6% detection rate compared to 60.5% the year before.
Incidences of fire-raising, and malicious mischief also fell, from 2,850 to 2,721 and had a 36% detection rate, compared to 28.8% the year before.
Sexual crimes went from 1,091 to 961 from April to December, an 81% detection rate and crimes of dishonesty also decreased from 6,366 to 6,011 with a detection rate of 46.3%, a slight increase on 45.9% the year before.
The taking, distribution and possession of indecent photos of children also rose, from 52 in 2019/20 to 98 from April to December 2020/21, with 92 of these detected.
There was slightly more attempted murders recorded in the first three quarters of the year, 32 compared to the same period in 2019/20, and a rise in the number of threats and extortion recorded – 52 compared to 32 in 2019/20.
The total number of housebreakings also rose, from 531 in 2019/20 to 568 in 2020/21.
Chief Superintendent George Macdonald
Public thanked for support
Police Scotland received an additional 25,000 calls between April and December compared to the same period last year – with a total of almost two million 999 and 101 calls made during the first three quarters of the financial year.
Chief Superintendent Macdonald added: “Police officers, staff and Special Constables continue to play a key role in the national effort to combat the spread of coronavirus, while facing the same personal and professional challenges as their fellow citizens. Regardless, they continue to carry out a significant amount of proactive and preventative work alongside our partners to do the absolute best for our communities.
“I continue to be grateful for the co-operation we receive from the public and would like to thank you sincerely for your continued support.”
Police have ‘strong connection’ with communities
Councillor Martin Greig, who was convener of the Grampian Police Board and is also the Liberal Democrat spokesman on crime, said: “This is a helpful report. It enables us to get some idea about the impact of the pandemic and lockdown on crime.
“It is of some use to compare the previous year statistics. A longer term view is needed to really start to understand reasons for trends in crime and in clear up rates. Over the last year, the city has seen some major changes in crime activity.
“The police have had to respond to the different circumstances. They have been responding quickly and well to the recent challenges. The police teams have undoubtedly adapted their working to tackle misbehaviour that has been influenced by lockdown.
“Our local police always have a strong connection with the community. More than ever, they rely on being given useful information from the public. The link with residents is based on good will and sharing responsibility of protecting victims.
“It is crucial to relay helpful details about crime and suspicious behaviour. They need feedback and support in order to do what they can to protect everyone. The police have been agile in dealing with disorder in lockdown/ during the pandemic.”