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Reported crimes in city rise in first six months of new force

Crime is on the increase in Scotland's capital city since the launch of a single police force, new figures have revealed.

Police have seen a surge in calls with more than 2000 cases reported in the first six months of the unified force but the number of solved cases has dropped.

More house-breakers are also now getting away with their crimes than before the introduction of the nationalised force.

After a dedicated burglar unit was scrapped, rates in Lothian plummeted by 20%.

Police chiefs are currently aiming to address the rise in crime with a new unit.

Freedom of Information figures show a total of 21,670 offences were reported in 2013, compared with 19,158 the year before. But solved cases dropped from 43.3% to 40%.

Police chiefs have claimed the spike in offences was due to "proactive policing" and stressed that more violent crimes were being solved after it became a "force priority".

But critics say Police Scotland had been distracted with cases such as closing saunas rather than concentrating on crimes "people really care about".

Scottish Conservative Lothians MSP Cameron Buchanan said: "There has been so much time and effort spent on the re-organisation of Police Scotland people will wonder if that's come at the expense of solving crime.

"What people really care about are offences like housebreaking, things that have an extremely negative impact on their lives.

"Instead, police in Edinburgh seem to be placing effort in things like tackling the saunas, something almost nobody complains about."

Addressing Edinburgh's trend-bucking police statistics, David Sinclair, a spokesman for Victim Support Scotland, said: "Overall, we agree with the Police Scotland strategy, which has concentrated much more on serious sexual crimes and the clear-up rates there are impressive.

"This is a bedding in period for the force and I'm very confident that subsequent figures will show that priority is being given to serious areas of crime such as sexual crimes and rapes."

Detective Superintendent Gareth Blair of Police Scotland said much of the rising recorded crime was down to "good policing".

"Our priority is keeping people safe and when you look at that we are very successful," he said.

"It has been a national priority to focus on violence and that proactive approach has produced results. During this period, there have been 93 fewer victims of violence, 37 of serious assault and 78 of robbery.

"We have increased stop and searches, which was right to do, and that has helped to increase arrests for carrying knives and drugs."

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