Increase in housebreaking must be addressed

County MSP Iain Gray is urging people in East Lothian to be vigilant about protecting their homes from break-ins, following the publication of new police figures which show a recent surge in reported cases of housebreaking in the county.

The latest figures show that the number of reported housebreakings in the county increased from 220 in 2012/13 to 321 in 2013/14, an increase of around 45 per cent. Reported cases of theft, including shoplifting, and motor vehicle crime, also increased locally over the same period.

The Police Scotland management information statistics, which provide details on reported crimes and detection rates, were released just after a spate of recent housebreakings in Ormiston, Pencaitland and Humbie, which served to underline the increased threat from this type of crime.

The figures also contained more positive news for East Lothian, with an overall reduction in violent crime. There was also an increase in the number of domestic abuse incidents which resulted in a crime report.

Speaking about the statistics for East Lothian, Iain Gray MSP said:

“These figures cover the first full year since Scotland’s national police force was established. One of the concerns about moving to a national force was the potential loss of local focus for policing in different communities. While it is probably too early to reach any definite conclusions, these figures do help with understanding of what has been happening on reported crime and detection rates across the country.

“There are certainly some positives for East Lothian, particularly the reduction in violent crime. But the standout concern has to be the large increase in the number of housebreakings locally over the last year. Prevention is clearly vital to tackling this type of crime. Residents should take appropriate steps to safeguard their properties and belongings and make it as hard as possible for criminals to commit this sort of crime.

“However, I will also be speaking to local police about this worrying increase and will ask them what action they are taking to combat it. Break-ins should not be regarded as merely a property crime because the impact they have on the individuals and families affected can be devastating. Local people will want to be reassured that catching and prosecuting those who commit housebreaking crimes remains a priority for Police Scotland.”