5,445 speeders caught on north of Scotland roads
The number of motorists caught speeding on the north’s roads have soared by more than 1,100 in the last year.
Assaults, vandalism and sex crimes are also on the up, according to the new figures released by police.
The statistics have been revealed as the north’s new police commander prepares to make his first appearance before Highland councillors later this week.
Chief Superintendent Philip Macrae took the reins last month and will present performance figures to the council’s communities and partnerships committee on Thursday.
The report released ahead of the committee meeting shows that crime is up in a number of areas, with 108 more common assaults in 2015/16 compared to the year before.
Police have dealt with 2,415 assaults in the year to date, compared to 2,307 in the previous 12 months.
However, the figure remains lower than the five-year average of 2,545 assaults.
A total of 5,445 speeders have been caught this year to date – a dramatic rise from 4,299 last year, an increase of 1,146 and well above the five-year average of 3,706.
The number of drivers detected for drink or drug driving offences has increased by 49 to 377 – while the numbers caught not using a seat belt and caught using a mobile phone have both dropped.
The division has set itself a target of increasing the number of sex crimes reported, with 489 investigated compared to 373 in the last year.
In his report, Ch Supt MacRae states: “In this reporting year, in the Highland area, the tactical approach which has been taken by the division involves targeting speed, use of mobile phones whilst driving and seatbelts.
“It is disappointing to see the numbers continuing to increase in terms of speed, however, we know that if we can reduce speed and ensure that people use their seatbelts and avoid the use of mobile phones whilst driving then they are less likely to be involved in a collision.”
The number of people killed on the roads in the year so far to date is also up on last year – 18 compared to 15 – though still lower than the five year average of 20.
Four people have been killed on the north’s roads in three separate accidents since Ch Supt Macrae’s predecessor Julian Innes last reported to the council committee.
A total of 71 people have been seriously injured in accidents – an increase of eight compared to last year.
Highlands and islands Green MSP John Finnie, a former police officer himself, said there are “many and varied reasons why crime figures may rise over time”.
He said: “Ideally the increases are down to an increased confidence in reporting crimes to the police from the public.
“Certainly in the case of speeding that suggests a certain pro-activity from the police in dealing with the issue and that is to be welcomed.”
He said he hoped increased education about the consequences of speeding could bring down the figure over time.
Vandalism has also increased to 1,745, 226 more than the previous year.
A total of 568 people were caught shoplifting, 55 more than the previous year.
However, the number of instances of antisocial behaviour has dropped by 623, with Ch Supt MacRae flagging the new Inverness Response Team as having a “positive” effect on reducing incidents.
Breaches of the peace have also dropped by one to 336 and the number of crimes of dishonesty has dropped as well.
Housebreakings have also dropped from 360 to 352.
Conservative Highland MSP Douglas Ross said he had concerns that the move to a single force could meant the police putting enforcement before education, particularly with road traffic offences.
He added: “Overall, it is true that having increased crime figures will be concerning for some.
“However, if detection rates are going up then it shows that the police are getting to the root of issues.”