Crime in the Highlands has fallen by almost 40% over the past ten years – among the biggest declines in Scotland.
New statistics from the National Records of Scotland (NRS) show the total number of crimes in the region recorded by police fell from 11,654 in 2010/11 to 7,248 in 2019/20, a drop of 38%.
However, the area also saw a 37% increase in the number of reported sexual crimes and a 155% increase in those classified as ‘other sexual crimes’, which include communicating indecently, sexual exposure, public indecency and taking, possessing and distributing indecent photos of children.
In the Highlands, there were 36% fewer cases of housebreaking recorded by police between 2010/11 and 2019/20 – from 435 in a year down to 279.
Thefts of a motor vehicle also dropped by 42%, from 206 at the start of the decade to 120.
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. Moray recorded 56 cases in the last year.
Due to this new inclusion, the total number of non-sexual crimes of violence has increased by 6% in the area since 2018/19 – though other crimes that fall into that category saw fairly significant reductions.
For example, there were 31% fewer robberies and 20% fewer attempted murders and serious assaults in 2019/20 than the year before.
There has been a major drop in motor vehicle offences in the Highlands since they were first grouped by the NRS in 2013/14 – from 11,884 down to 7,190.
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: “Our division is a very safe place to live and work and we have seen a welcome downward trend in many crime types.
“Violent crime has continued to fall over the past few years and this is testament to the strong partnership approach and the close relationship we have with our communities.
“We are committed to detecting crimes and our national, specialist resources support local policing to investigate thoroughly all allegations of criminality whether in the public, private or virtual space.”