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Fraud & Online Child Abuse Increases While Other Crimes Return To Pre-lockdown Levels

Reports of fraud and online child abuse continue to rise sharply, a new report by Police Scotland shows.

Crimes of fraud have increased by 45.4% in the first six months of 2020-21 compared to the same period last year and are 83.4% above the five year average.

Online child sexual abuse is up by 18.4% year on year and by 35.8% when compared to the five year average during the same period.

Between April and September there were 7,466 reported crimes of fraud, compared to 5,136 during the same period last year, according to Police Scotland’s 2020-21 Quarter 2 Performance Report.

During the same period there were 1,036 reports of online child sexual abuse, compared to 875 during the first two quarters of 2019-20.

Deputy Chief Constable Fiona Taylor said: “The rapid increase in online abuse and exploitation of vulnerable people and children, either for financial gain or for sexual purposes, underlines that policing must continue to operate in public, private and, increasingly, in virtual spaces to provide education, re-assurance and enforcement.
“This report outlines action to support those at risk, including significant enforcement in relation to child sexual abuse as well as a campaign to help people better protect themselves from fraud.
“Our investment in specialist areas continues to uncover significant additional and, as yet, not fully quantified policing needs and requirements. In September, we published our ambitious cyber strategy which sets a clear direction for how we will tackle the threat, risk and harm from digitally-enabled crimes.”

The document shows reports of many other crimes are returning to pre-lockdown levels, following a significant drop in overall offending between April and June. It also details the role policing is playing in the national effort to combat the spread of coronavirus, as well some of the steps taken to help keep officers and staff safe.

DCC Taylor said: “While reported crime is lower year on year across a number of categories, this can be attributed to the exceptional circumstances during Quarter 1 and demand has returned to levels we would more usually expect to see.
“The high level of demand has also been evident in our contact centres where service advisors have played a critical role during this public health emergency. On occasion callers to 101 have had to wait longer for their calls to be answered, with emergency 999 calls prioritised at all times.”
DCC Taylor added: “Officers and staff have engaged with members of the public about COVID on over 75,000 occasions to explain rules and guidance, to encourage people to comply and, where necessary, to enforce the law.
“Our fellow citizens have shown high levels of support and co-operation, with the overwhelming majority of people taking personal responsibility to do the right thing.
“We have taken significant steps to support our officers and staff as they discharge their duties during this public health emergency, including a large-scale programme to supply personal protective equipment and the issue of thousands of laptops to support home working.”

The Performance Report will be presented to the Scottish Police Authority’s Policing Performance Committee on Tuesday, 17 November.

Police Scotland regularly publishes information about our performance.

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