Police chief praises public as crime figures show Highlands and Islands to be one of safest parts of Scotland
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The Highlands and Islands’ top police officer has thanked members of the public for their support after the latest crime figures showed that the region remains one of the safest places in the country.
The divisional commander, Chief Superintendent Conrad Trickett, said he was "extremely grateful" for the help officers receive from communities and gave an assurance that the force will continue to respond to public concerns.
The statistics covering the period April 1 to September 30 confirm that the region has one of the lowest crime rates in Scotland, while there was an increase in the overall detection rate by almost two percentage points compared with the same period last year.
More than 1000 drug offences were recorded, while 156 crimes involving offensive or bladed weapons were detected as efforts continued to tackle violent crime. Identifying and supporting vulnerable people being exploited by criminals also remains a priority for the police, with days of action launched across the region to tackle "county lines".
Meanwhile, almost 4000 people were charged with road offences including dangerous driving, drink/drug-driving and speeding.
Chief Superintendent Trickett said: “While increased detection rates and reductions in crime are always welcome, it is important to remember that this has been an extraordinary period and therefore it’s very difficult to draw conclusions about long-term crime trends generally.
"While crime levels nationally are returning to levels experienced during previous years, it could take many months – maybe even years – before we fully understand the impact Covid-19 has had.
“While these figures will serve as a benchmark for continued improvement, they do not tell the full story of policing during the past few months. Identifying and protecting the most vulnerable people alongside our partners has been absolutely key and our officers, staff and special constables remain out in your communities helping those most in need and providing reassurance.
"Moving forward, the potential for suppressed vulnerability remains a concern and I urge communities to remain vigilant of those at potential risk and to raise any concerns to police or partners.”
Nationally, fraud offences and online child abuse continue to rise sharply, with Police Scotland’s national Performance Report highlighting a significant increase in cyber crimes.
Chief Superintendent Trickett said: “As explained by Deputy Chief Constable Fiona Taylor, Police Scotland’s ambitious cyber strategy sets out a clear direction for how we tackle the exploitation of vulnerable people and children, either for financial gain or for sexual purposes.
"While we do all that we can to bring offenders to justice, it is crucial that the public take steps to protect themselves from these criminals and be aware of the warning signs.”
He added: “It has been three months since I joined the region and I continue to be extremely proud of the work ongoing alongside our partners to keep people safe. I am also extremely grateful for the support we receive from our communities and I can provide every assurance that Police Scotland is here to help and will continue responding to your concerns.”