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Dramatic rise in sexual and drugs crimes recorded in Orkney over 10 years

Total crime numbers in Scotland have fallen by 24% over ten years

The Orkney Islands have seen a 213% increase in recorded sexual crime over the last 10 years, while the number of drugs crimes recorded in the area increased by 185% in the same time frame.

New statistics from the National Records of Scotland (NRS) show the number of sexual crimes recorded by police on the islands more than tripled from 15 in 2010-11 to 47 in 2019-20.

Meanwhile, the number of recorded drugs crimes rose from 34 at the start of the decade to 97 in 2019-20.

However, the figures show that the total number of crimes recorded by police in Orkney fell by 21% over that period, from 450 in 2010-11 down to 354 in 2019-20.

Cases of housebreaking fell from 22 in the first year of the decade to just two in the last.

Domestic abuse statistics have been included in the NRS release for the first time, after the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 was enacted in April 2019. Orkney recorded four cases in the last year.

Even with these included, the total number of non-sexual crimes of violence has fallen by four in the area since 2018-19, and by 10 since the start of the decade.

Cases of speeding on the islands have shot up in the last year, from 63 in 2018-19 to 112 in 2019-20.

In Scotland as a whole, total recorded crime is down by 24% between 2010-11 and 2019-20, though the number of recorded sexual crimes has doubled in that same time.

The NRS states that at least 40% of the sexual crimes recorded by the police in 2019-20 related to a victim under the age of 18 – a proportion similar to the previous year.

Regarding the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown on the statistics, the NRS said: “This had a significant impact on daily living which also affected the number of crimes and offences recorded, to varying degrees.

“As these developments only cover the final few days of the 2019-20 reporting year, they are unlikely to have had a significant effect on the crime statistics presented in this bulletin.

“However they are likely to have a more significant impact on the 2020-21 figures.”

Chief Superintendent Conrad Trickett, divisional commander for the Highlands and Islands, said: “Orkney is a very safe place to live and work and crime rates on the islands are very low.

“Sexual crime has historically been under-reported and our officers along with partner agencies work hard taking a victim-centred approach to such investigations. This is in line with national reporting and indicates increased confidence in reporting rather than an increase in offending.

“We are committed to pursuing those who profit from the sale and supply of illegal substances and we work with other agencies to support those affected by drug use. Since the year 2019/20, we have worked in partnership with Orkney Drugs Dog charity and this has enhanced our capability and increased detection of illegal substances.”

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