Fife police detect more sexual offences as anti-social behavior surges during Covid pandemic
Police in Fife have detected more sexual crimes this year compared to last, according to new figures.
Quarterly data released on Friday, from April 1 to December 31, shows there were 53 fewer reports of indecent or sexual assaults compared to the same period in 2019/20.
Fife police division also saw the number of indecent communication offences fall from 82 to 76, while there were four fewer offences relating to the taking and downloading of indecent images of children.
Overall, there has been a rise in detection for sexual crimes within Fife, including a 15 percentage point increase in rape detections. The number of recorded rapes over the nine month period is about the same – 145 compared to 147 in the previous year.
Chief Superintendent Derek McEwan, Divisional Commander for Fife, said: “Fife’s Public Protection Unit continues to target perpetrators of sexual crime and this has proven extremely successful in enhancing our detection rate and reducing various offences.
“I recognise that some forms of sexual crime remain under-reported and would urge victims to come forward so we can investigate and bring those responsible to justice.”
One murder was recorded in Fife in the third quarter of 2020/21 - three less than during the same period in 2019/20.
Despite this reduction, there were 194 more reports of common assaults and six more incidents of serious assault, with detection rates for both increasing by nearly six and five percent respectively.
The coronavirus restrictions in place throughout 2020 have resulted in large numbers of Fife’s population remaining at home and this has likely played a part in the fall of domestic housebreaking.
In Fife, all forms of housebreaking and attempted housebreaking - including the likes of sheds, businesses and garages - have reduced, with 171 fewer offences reported this year. But even with this reduction in reporting, the detection rate for domestic housebreaking has increased by nearly eight percent.
However, there has been a continued rise in fraud offences in Fife, mirroring a national trend linked to more people spending time at home and relying on technology.
Across Scotland, overall crimes are down but there have been notable rises in domestic abuse (1.8 percent), online child sexual abuse (13.4 percent) and fraud (43.4 percent).
Deputy Chief Constable Fiona Taylor said Police Scotland has seen a “shift to more serious offences and increasingly complex and resource-intensive investigations.”
In total, 5,947 more crimes of antisocial behaviour have been recorded in Fife division, significantly impacted by anti-social behaviour related calls linked to the ongoing pandemic.
The figures show there has also been a rise in fire-raising crime – from 84 to 123 incidents. However, detection rates have also risen by about 11 percentage points.
Nationally, there has been a large increase in the number of incidents about public nuisance - 56,900 to 123,900 incidents - over the nine month period, as well as a rise in neighbour disputes and noise complaints.
Road safety remains a priority and the number of casualties in Fife fell by 117, while there were also three fewer fatal collisions on the region’s roads, although there is a recognition that during periods of 2020 there were a lot less motor vehicles on the roads.
Chief Sup McEwan said: “Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the officers and staff within Fife Division have continued to work tirelessly to keep Fife a safe place to live, work and visit and I am encouraged by the reduction in various offences we’ve observed.
“Where crimes have been reported though, in particular surrounding crimes of violence and domestic housebreaking, Fife Division are highly successful at apprehending those responsible.
“It is too early to assess the full impact COVID-19 has had on recorded crime and we must not become complacent in our efforts to reduce crime within the Kingdom further.
“DCC Fiona Taylor has stated that policing must continue to enhance our specialist capacity and capability to protect the people of Scotland from threat, harm and risk in the public, private and virtual spaces. Despite our reductions in certain online sexual crimes, I want to make it clear that we are committed to doing more.
“I also welcome our reduction in road casualties and the fall in serious motoring offences such as drink driving and speeding. I hope to see continued success in this area and remind the public that they should never risk getting behind the wheel while under the influence.”