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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 October 2005, 11:01 GMT 12:01 UK
New rules blamed for 'crime rise'
Reports of vandalism increased last year
The number of crimes reported to police increased by 6% last year in Scotland to a record level, figures have shown.

There was a rise of almost a quarter in recorded cases of vandalism, while rape allegations were at an all-time high.

But Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson said the statistics did not mean that crime was on the increase in Scotland.

She said the rise in minor crime was down to changes in the way they were recorded by police and welcomed falls in violent crime and housebreaking.

The Scottish National Party said the new recording system painted a "grim picture" of the true crime level in Scotland while Tories claimed crime was "spiralling out of control".

These statistics do not mean that crime is on the up
Cathy Jamieson
Justice Minister

The figures showed that a total of 438,093 crimes were recorded by police in 2004/2005.

The statistics were the first since the introduction of the Scottish Crime Recording Standard, which means that corroboration is not needed before an incident is recorded as a crime.

This has seen more offences such as vandalism, fire-raising and low-level thefts included in the figures.

The report said the 24% rise in cases of vandalism, which included fire-raising and malicious mischief, was thought to be entirely down to the new recording system.

The figures showed a 3% fall in non-sexual violent crime, including a 10% drop in robberies.

Police efforts

However, the number of serious assaults rose by 3% to 7,768.

Crimes of indecency increased by 8%, within which the reports of rape or attempted rape rose by 7% to its highest ever figure.

That figure was said to reflect police efforts to encourage victims to come forward, as well as the reporting of almost 100 cases in Lothian and Borders dating back more than 40 years.

The SNP said a more visible police presence was needed

There was a fall in the clean-up rate from 47% to 45%, which was again blamed on the new standards.

The justice minister admitted that the figures gave her a "more complicated presentational challenge".

But she said the new way of recording offences was more consistent and accurate and stressed: "These statistics do not mean that crime is on the up."

She said: "No-one should under-estimate the debilitating impact that anti-social crimes like graffiti and smashed bus shelters have on communities - and that is why it is important that our crime statistics do not under-estimate its frequency.

Local needs

"We have put the new laws and resources in place to ensure that everyone now has someone to turn to for help in standing up to anti-social behaviour.

"The task now for local agencies is to make sure they respond effectively to meet these local needs and bring ordinary, hard-working people some peace."

Crime is spiralling out of control and the criminals have far too many rights at the expense of the victims
Annabel Goldie
Conservative spokeswoman

SNP justice spokesman Kenny MacAskill MSP said: "What is needed is a more visible police presence to deter crime and reassure communities.

"However, as well as being tough on crime we must be tough on the root causes of crime."

The Scottish Conservatives' home affairs spokeswoman, Annabel Goldie, said crime was at an all-time high.

"Crime is spiralling out of control and the criminals have far too many rights at the expense of the victims," she said.

"The most sophisticated reporting system in the world isn't going to change that - a commitment to more police on the beat and an end to automatic early release is."

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