Police report falling crime rate in central Scotland

Image caption,
Chief Constable Kevin Smith said performance was "extremely strong"

Levels of reported crime in central Scotland has fallen for the third year running, police have confirmed.

The annual report from Central Scotland Police showed there were 16,424 crimes reported in the region during 2009/10, 12% less than the previous year.

Crimes of violence, dishonesty, vandalism and anti-social behaviour fell, but indecency offences increased.

Chief Constable Kevin Smith said the force had also seen "high detection rates" in the past two years.

More than 21,000 crimes were reported during 2006/07, a rise of 9%, but the rate has dropped each year since.

Mr Smith presented his report on Falkirk, Stirling and Clackmannanshire to the Joint Police Board, which welcomed it as "very positive".

He said: "In a year when we have seen several major investigations, the performance of the force has been extremely strong.

"The public often have a perception about crime being higher than it is, but in the past two years we have seen sustained decreases with high detection rates.

"The message that sends to the public is clear; your communities are seeing less crime and when it does take place there is a very high chance of it being detected.

"With increasing focus on areas such as the management of sex offenders, complex investigations into online grooming and the need to be ever-aware around counter terrorism, policing needs to be more sophisticated, responsive and effective than ever."

The current economic climate would lead to "difficult decisions" this year to minimise the potential impact on front line services, he added.

Councillor George Matchett, convener of Central Scotland Joint Police Board, said: "It is very pleasing to see that the focus has very firmly remained on keeping communities as safe as they can be."

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