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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 April, 2003, 15:29 GMT 16:29 UK
Texting blamed for crime rise
Mobile texting
Texting has been linked to rises in threats and extortion
A Scottish police force has blamed mobile phone text messaging for a massive rise in the number of incidents involving threats and extortion.

Figures released by Lothian and Borders on Wednesday showed an increase in such crimes from 514 to 875 - a 70% jump.

The force said that 450 of those 875 incidents were made via phone texting.

However, overall crime figures in the area are down by 1.3%, the equivalent of 1,000 fewer crimes.

Last year the force dealt with 378,883 incidents, roughly 1,100 each day.

Chief constable of Lothian and Borders Police, Paddy Tomkins, said the performance was "outstanding".

Violent crime is the greatest cause for concern, particularly where it is aggravated by carrying of weapons
Paddy Tomkins
Chief constable of Lothian and Borders Police
He added: "Overall there has been a very strong performance by the force in the face of enormous demand through the number of incidents, the events and the incidence of major complex criminal inquiries.

"The officers and support staff of the force have performed extremely well under significant pressure. There are some areas of concern and we will be taking steps to address them.

"Violent crime is the greatest cause for concern, particularly where it is aggravated by carrying of weapons. For instance, attempted murders rose from 95 to 106, an increase of 12%, and half of them involved use of knives."

Lothian and Borders Police said it remains concerned about an increase in the number of reported rapes and an increase in fire-raising incidents, up from 499 to 692.

Most of them were small blazes in wheelie bins or rubbish which was set alight.

Deputy chief constable Tom Wood said: "So far, the consequences have been minor but this is such a dangerous practice and lives can easily be lost.

Pro-active

"We will be having discussions with local authorities and the fire service to reverse this trend."

Mr Wood pledged to intensify police activity to combat violence and possession of weapons, such as knives.

He said: "This increase in those figures comes about despite the fact that we have had a lot of pro-active initiatives, recovered weapons and given endless warnings to young people and parents about the dangers of weapons.

"It is quite clear that we are going to have to keep up the pressure to turn the tide.

"The top priority will be tackling violent crime and in particular the continued use of weapons. We will be looking very closely at ways to change this dangerous habit of carrying weapons."

However, there was positive news, which included;

  • detection of drug dealing rose by 33.6%

  • detection rates for domestic housebreaking stood at 44% - one of the highest in the UK

  • housebreaking offences fell by 17%, a drop of 178 on the previous figures

  • serious assaults are down by 5% from 739 to 704.

And the end of year figures also showed fewer road accident casualties.

There were 12% fewer people killed or seriously injured, and a 15% reduction in children killed or seriously injured.


SEE ALSO:
Texting insults at primary school
07 Apr 03  |  Education
Lothian crime figures up
07 Apr 00  |  Scotland
Crime rise blamed on police cuts
04 Feb 00  |  Scotland


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