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CRIME rates in the region rocketed by a fifth in the last year, with vandalism and drug offences mainly to blame for the rise.

IMG_6274 police car

There were a total of 21,417 criminal offences recorded in Dumfries and Galloway between 2015-16.

That’s compared to 19,498 the year before.

And the regional picture bucks the national Scottish trend where recorded crime is at a 42-year low.

But the local police chief has put the increase down to improved performance by officers who have been tackling historical sex, domestic abuse and child cruelty crimes and cracking down on drugs.

Police Scotland divisional commander for Dumfries and Galloway Gary Ritchie said: “The overall crime figure as published by the Scottish Government does not give the full picture when taken in isolation.”

He explained police have been more proactive and have been working with partner agencies, adding: “The rise in drug offences reflects the increased proactivity of police officers to tackle substance abuse which is a promise we made to the public of Dumfries and Galloway three years ago.

“I’m very much encouraged that the tireless hard work by our local officers and specialist national departments as well as our commitment to partnership working and proactivity is producing these results.”

The force boss also stressed that despite the increase, Dumfries and Galloway still has relatively low crime rates and remains one of the safest places in Scotland to live.

Expressing his disappointment at the sharp increase in vandalisms, Div Com Ritchie said: “It is of course disappointing to see that there has been a rise in vandalism from last year which reflects a national trend, but it is important to note that the levels of vandalism are still 30 per cent lower than they were five years ago, which was prior to the national force.”

But the figures, which were released on Tuesday by the Scottish Government, have left politicians alarmed.

Reacting to the 19 per increase in reported crimes, Dumfriesshire MSP Oliver Mundell said: “I am very alarmed at these statistics which will seriously worry my constituents across the region.”

Explaining what he believes is the reasons for the surge, Mr Mundell said: “For recorded crime to have risen by a fifth in such a short space of time shows that the Scottish Government need to put far more resources into tackling crime in rural areas like Dumfries and Galloway rather than centralising vital resources for our police.”

Calling on the government to get ‘an urgent grip’ on the problem, he added: “With drug and vandalism crimes increasing at an astonishing rate, the Scottish Government don’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to crime rates in Dumfries and Galloway.

“Police Scotland is proving to be a costly mistake for this region’s officers who don’t have the resources to deal with fighting crime.

“It’s time for the SNP to get much tougher on crime in order to ensure Dumfries and Galloway residents and businesses are able to feel they are living and working in a safe environment.”

The region saw the largest increase in recorded crime in mainland Scotland between 2014-15 and 2015-16.

However, the rates are down by almost a third, 32 per cent, on years 2006-2007.

 

2015-16

Non-sexual crimes of violence — 148

Sexual crimes — 374

Crimes of dishonesty — 2144

Fire raising — 1390

Other crimes — 1823

Miscellaneous offences — 4472

Motor vehicle offences — 11066

2014-15

Non-sexual crimes of violence — 141

Sexual crimes — 314

Crimes of dishonesty — 1947

Fire raising — 981

Other crimes — 1567

Miscellaneous offences — 3733

Motor vehicle offences — 10,815

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