SHETLAND remains one of the safest places in Scotland to live and work, according to statistics for recorded crime issued this week.
The figures for the year from April 2007-March 2008 show that the crime rate in the isles is one of the lowest in the country, second only to Orkney. Coupled with that the detection rate is one of the highest in Scotland at 70.7 per cent, as against the Northern Constabulary force area average of 63 per cent, the Scottish average of 50 per cent and the English average of between 25 and 30 per cent.
Chief inspector Malcolm Bell said most crimes in Shetland were minor crimes of disorder and vandalism. Alcohol plays a key part in most crime, he said, in particular crimes of violence and disorder.
However this year the local force has seen a marked decrease in crimes of violence, which have almost halved compared to the previous year.
Chief inspector Bell said this was due to targeted high-visibility patrols, both mobile and on foot, the ability to issue fixed penalties for minor crimes of disorder and active targeting of under-age drinking.
All of this is underpinned by the support of the public, which chief inspector Bell described as “quite exceptional”. He said the results could not have been produced without that support, and without working closely with agencies such as the Community Safety Partnership, the Child Protection Committee and the Community Planning Partnership.
Drink driving will continue to receive the attention of the force. The chief inspector said that a “robust line” is taken on this crime, and drink drivers caught face spending time in police cells pending a court appearance.
In addition he said that drugs worth “tens of thousands of pounds” had been taken off the streets during the year. He said: “Operations continue to tackle the importation of drugs to the islands and we could not achieve this level of success without the support of the public, for which we are very grateful.
“Shetland is a remarkably safe place to live, work and do business and we will continue to work hard to ensure this will remain the case.”
The number of crimes recorded in the Northern Constabulary area decreased by almost seven per cent last year. Serious assaults were down by 25 per cent and crimes of indecency were down 16 per cent, compared with the national average of 48 per cent.
The area also has the lowest levels in Scotland of robbery, housebreaking, fire-raising, vandalism and theft.