Falkirk crime in lockdown: Huge drop in shoplifting, big rise in speeding

A year of lockdown and restrictions proved unique challenges for local police officers.

By Kirsty Paterson, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Monday, 24th May 2021, 10:36 am

Presenting his first report to Falkirk Council's Scrutiny Committee, new area commander, Chief Inspector Walker compared figures from April 2020 to March of this year with those logged during the pandemic.

He cautioned, however, that the statistics would not always be helpful during such an unusual year.

Shoplifting was down by nearly a third, from 834 to 594.

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Picture Michael Gillen

Thefts by housebreaking plummeted as so many people stayed at home - the figures falling from 404 to 195.

There were fewer common assaults, with 1697 investigated compared to 1904 the previous year, but the detection rate remained fairly steady at 77.3 per cent.

The number of domestic abuse incidents rose by 4.8 per cent - 2182 from 2082 - although that was not the sharp increase that had been feared.

There was also a dramatic drop in sexual crimes, which CI Walker said was a combination of different factors including a lower number of historic cases being reported along with the fact that pubs and clubs had not been open much in the past year.

New Falkirk Area Commander Craig Walker. Chief Inspector Craig Walker. (Pic: Michael Gillen)

Robberies were down from 54 to 46, although the detection rate rose to 80 .4 per cent.

One area that did show a big rise, however, was speeding offences which jumped by 30.9 per cent.

Despite Covid restrictions, officers detected 915 speeding offences and 80 dangerous driving offences in the Falkirk area between April 1 2020 and March 31, 2021.

Convictions for dangerous driving also rose from 59 to 80, while driving licence offences also rose from 126 to 156.

There was also a leap in insurance offences detected which were up 35.4 per cent from 294, although the number of disqualified driver convictions fell from 40 to 31.

Road traffic casualties, however, were substantially down - 26 people were seriously injured compared to 34 the year before; and 55 people were slightly injured compared to 124 from April 2019-March 2020.

Three children were seriously injured, compared to six the year before.

Two people were killed in road traffic accidents, the same as the year before.

Scrutiny Committee convener, Councillor Jim Blackwood, asked why motoring offences would have been so high when there had been a huge reduction in cars on the road.

CI Walker said: "I'd say that the type of individuals who are prepared to drive on a road dangerously or not have a licence are potentially the same people who wouldn't comply with coronavirus legislation.

"So, on the road it might be that they were easier to spot than they would be normally when the roads are busy.

"But we've had some opportunities to do proactive work that we don't always have the chance to do so it's a combination of the two."

Local officers had responded to complaints around road safety and speeding along Central Avenue, Grangemouth around school time.

He also reported that dedicated speed checks had been undertaken by Community officers in Grangemouth, Bo'ness and the Braes.

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