Figures reveal serious assaults in Falkirk area almost doubled in 2016

Police Scotland's performance will come under scrutiny at Falkirk Council
Police Scotland's performance will come under scrutiny at Falkirk Council

Police Scotland often finds itself copping plenty of criticism for the way it has handled its responsibilities.

The last couple of years have been particularly tough for the force at both national and local level, with high profile scandals like the handling of the M9 crash and, just last month, Audit Scotland slamming the organisation’s “weak financial leadership”.

Police Scotland will be in the spotlight again on Thursday when Falkirk Council’s external scrutiny committee meet to look at the force’s performance from the period April to September last year.

The report that will go before the scrutiny committee highlights how well, or otherwise, the force did when it came to local priorities including protecting people and places, dealing with anti-social disorder, violent crime and making roads safe.

While crime as a whole seems to be on the decrease, the number of violent offences rose by 14, from 88 in 2015 to 102 in 2016, an increase of 15.9 per cent.

And not only have the number of rapes increased, from 18 in 2015 to 23 in 2016, but the detection rate for this offence has fallen from 77.8 per cent to just 52.2 per cent.

The number of serious assaults have also gone up from 36 to 65, but thankfully the detection rate has increased from 88.9 per cent to 96.9 per cent.

And, although it did not happen within that particular time frame, the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) probe into the police handling of an incident involving the death of 46-year-old David Penman will be fresh in committee member’s minds.

Mr Penman’s body was discovered within a van parked in the Dunipace area on Thursday, December 15 and, while it is believed his death was not suspicious, questions are now being asked as to why police officers, who were reportedly made aware of the van as early as Tuesday, December 13, through telephone calls from concerned members of the public, only found his body two days later.

The Crown Office referred the matter to PIRC and once the investigation is carried out the findings will be passed back to the Crown Office to decide what action is to be taken.