Jul 20 2012 by Johnathon Menzies, Stirling Observer Friday
UPHEAVAL caused by the creation of a single Scottish police force will not impact on falling crime levels in the Stirling area.
The claim was made by Central Scotland Police Chief Constable Derek Penman as he released his annual report yesterday (Thursday).
He said the imminent restructuring looks set to impact on management-level posts and facilities – as the current eight local constabularies are merged into a single body – meaning police officers will be able to carry out their duties as normal.
He said: “We need to make sure that staff are made aware of as much information about what’s happening as soon as possible. I would say that, as has widely been reported, the public should see no difference come April 1 [the date the nationwide force is set to come into being] – our approach to policing will be no different.”
The Chief Constable’s report states that recorded crime across the force area fell by four per cent – between April 1, 2011, and March 31 this year – to 16,213 incidents, a reduction of 635 crimes compared to the previous year.
A total of 396 incidents were recorded in the violent crime category, which equates to a six per cent drop compared to the figure in last year’s document.
Chief Constable Penman was keen to highlight a 14 per cent decrease in the number of incidents of reported anti-social behaviour, to 7890 cases, and the fact officers have snared £4 million worth of illegal drugs and arrested 63 people involved in organised crime.
However, the document also reveals increases in the likes of sexual crime, thefts, shoplifting, minor assaults and threatening or abusive behaviour – with alcohol described as being “continually linked” to various incidents on more than one occasion within the report.
In addition, the number of reported racially-motivated crimes and offences has risen from 321 in 2010/11 to 443 this year – with reported racist incidents jumping from 280 to 333 in the same time frame.
Referring to whether the rise in thefts and shoplifting could be attributed to the economic downturn, Chief Constable Penman said: “Crime trends tend to vary across the board, often for a number of reasons. It would be nice for the likes of yourselves [the media] to say that the situation with the economy means people are turning to shoplifting, but I don’t think that’s the case.”
Chief Constable Penman concluded: “The force has met a wide range of challenges across a wide range of issues, including our preparation of national police reform, serious crime investigations and responding to severe weather.
“We have also seen a reduction in police staff numbers through early retirement and redundancies as the force and area’s joint police board worked together to reduce costs and deliver a sustainable budget.
“The force has managed to maintain police officer numbers  at the agreed established levels, achieved through support from the joint police board and the Scottish Government.”
He added: “This could not have been done without the dedication and committment of police staff and officers, who continue to make the force successful.
“Our belief is simple, it’s only through delivering quality services that we will build trust, confidence and satisfaction in our local policing.”
Full policing statistics can be viewed at www.centralscotland.police.uk.
Further coverage on the Chief Constable’s report will be in our Wednesday edition.