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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 October, 2004, 05:28 GMT 06:28 UK
Paedophile hunt hindering police
Andrew Brown
Andrew Brown said Operation Ore was causing problems
The global battle to fight internet paedophiles is placing "significant" demands on the Scottish police.

Andrew Brown, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary (HMIC), said in his annual report that the US-led Operation Ore was causing problems.

But the watchdog also said Scottish crime detection rates had reached their highest level of 47% and revealed that recorded crime had fallen by 1%.

Overall, he found Scotland's forces had made "positive progress" over the year.

'Extensive commitment'

Talking of the strains put on the Scottish service by the global pornography probe, he said: "The extensive commitment to Operation Ore continues to place significant operational demands on the police service across Scotland.

"Considerable numbers of suspects continue to be identified and subsequent investigations require the substantial investment of investigative and technical resources."

He also noted that next year's G8 summit of world leaders in Gleneagles, Perthshire, would also pose a "significant challenge" to the Scottish police service.

Other findings in Mr Brown's report for 2003-4 included:

  • Recorded crimes had fallen by 1% to 414,239 cases.

  • Fire-raising and vandalism had risen by 6% and drug crime and crimes of indecency were up 3%.

  • The total number of recorded offences increased by 18% from 517,545 in 2002/03 to a record 609,040.

  • 70% of all offences were motoring offences and speeding offences had increased 70% - mostly as a result of the Scottish safety camera programme.

  • The number of police complaints rose by 57 to 2,880, the equivalent to 12.1 complaints per 100 members of staff.

  • And the number of applicants per police officer post fell from 8.4 in 1999/00 to 5.8

Mr Brown said: "There is always scope for improvement and HMIC has made a series of recommendations aimed at enhancing the delivery of policing in Scotland.

"Nevertheless, we have found that police forces and organisations in Scotland were generally efficient and delivering good quality services to the public in the fight against crime."

Mr Brown said police were still putting in "significant periods of unproductive time" waiting to give evidence in court, despite efforts to tackle the problem.

And he insisted procedures and laws for complaints against the police needed "further development".

Individuals need to start taking responsibility for their own actions and less excuses for bad behaviour
Kenny MacAskill
Despite the new detection rate record, Tory justice spokeswoman Annabel Goldie said crime in Scotland remained at "unacceptably high levels".

She said: "A crime is committed every 76 seconds, with a drug crime every 12 minutes and an act of vandalism every five minutes.

"This is simply not acceptable, and the Scottish Executive is not doing nearly enough to combat crime.

"I am concerned that the lack of police on our streets, the lack of resource given to the justice system, and the unwillingness of the executive to ensure that criminals serve appropriate sentences is leading people to believe that there is little point in reporting crime."

The Scottish National Party's justice spokesman Kenny MacAskill said the figures showed there was a deep-seated problem behind the report's findings.

'Social malaise'

He said: "These figures show it is not simply a policing problem but a social malaise.

"While the overall recorded crime may have decreased, serious crimes such as drug offences and crimes of indecency have increased.

"Individuals need to start taking responsibility for their own actions and less excuses for bad behaviour.

"What these figures show is we need to start addressing the culture that creates crime, otherwise the concern is that all the police in the world will struggle to fully address the problem."

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