Moray has seen crime fall significantly in the past ten years, fuelled by a dramatic decline in the number of housebreaking incidents and motor vehicle thefts.
New statistics from the National Records of Scotland (NRS) show the total number of crimes in the region recorded by police fell from 4,065 in 2010/11 to 2,651 in 2019/20, a drop of 35%.
However, the area also saw a 47% increase in the number of reported sexual crimes and a 177% 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 Moray, there were 67% fewer cases of housebreaking recorded by police between 2010/11 and 2019/20 – from 324 in a year down to 107.
Thefts of a motor vehicle also plummeted by 62%, from 86 at the start of the decade to 33.
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 51 cases in the last year.
Due to this new inclusion, the total number of non-sexual crimes of violence has increased by 38% in the area since 2018/19 – though other crimes that fall into that category saw fairly significant reductions.
For example, there were 70% fewer robberies in 2019/20 than the year before.
There has been a major drop in motor vehicle offences in Moray since they were first grouped by the NRS in 2013/14 – from 4,246 down to 2,719.
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.”
Superintendent Kate Stephen said: “Moray is a safe place to live and work and the reduction in crime is testament to the work of our officers and staff in supporting victims and detecting offending.
“Sexual crime has historically been under-reported and the rise in reports is a positive sign of increasing confidence of victims to come forward.
“Our officers have worked very hard, with partners, to identify victims of sexual crime proactively, including complex, online and non-recent offending.
“Protecting vulnerable people is a priority for the North East and our close relationship with partners in areas such as child and adult protection and public protection has seen an increase in reporting.
“We also regularly run campaigns and hold events with communities on social media to highlight the preventative work we do and encourage reporting.
“Our national, specialist resources support local policing to investigate thoroughly all allegations of criminality whether in the public, private or virtual space.”