Highlands and Islands remains among safest places in UK, says Police Scotland
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Police Scotland is reporting a slight rise in sexual assaults in the Highlands this year compared to last.
Set against an overall drop in recorded crimes in the region, the force says the increase was evidence of improving confidence in the reporting of sexual offences.
Figures for the period from April 1 to September 30 this year show a slight increase in certain other categories of crime including serious and common assault, common theft and fraud.
But there was a fall in the total number of recorded offences across all types of criminal activity from 3814 to 3662 incidents for the six-month period.
Police Scotland say the figures, published this week, show the Highland and Islands continues to be a safe place to live despite a busy summer period for the force as coronavirus restrictions eased.
Divisional Commander Chief Superintendent Conrad Trickett said: “The Highlands and Islands area continues to be one of the safest places to live in Scotland, but we are not immune to issues faced elsewhere.”
Reported sexual offences, overall, fell from 253 to 243 for the period, with the detection rate increasing from 66.8 to 73.3 per cent.
Within this category, however, indecent and sexual assault rose from 65 to 77, but rapes and attempted rapes fell from 82 to 51.
There was a slight rise in recorded crimes of dishonesty, from 1237 to 1249, mirrored in a rise in offences of malicious damage and fire-raising.
There were no murders in the period, compared to three during the same six months last year.
Non-sexual crimes of violence also fell in number, while domestic abuse incidents fell from 1334 to 1176, a drop of 11.8 per cent.
There was, however, a surge in missing person reports from 658 to 960.
Police Scotland, however, stressed that for all of the figures there was likely to be revision and reclassification as investigations proceed.
Chief Superintendent Tricket said: “During this period we have seen an increase in serious and common assaults being recorded as well as a rise in fraud.
“Supporting victims of sexual crime and targeting perpetrators is a priority and we welcome the increase in recorded sexual crimes as confidence in reporting grows.
“However, we know there is still much more to do to improve reporting of traditionally under-reported crimes such as sexual offending.”
Driving offences, overall, rose slightly from 3529 to 3596, with a rise in fatalities from three to seven and serious injuries from 55 to 63.
The Chief Superintendent added: “We have recorded an increase in road traffic offences including dangerous and careless driving, drink/drug driving, speeding and seatbelt offences.
“We will continue to work closely with our colleagues in the Road Policing Division to take action and make our roads a safe place for all.”