NEARLY one in 10 police incidents in Scotland now involves a foreign national, figures have revealed.

Senior law enforcement figures have revealed their dealings with people born outside the UK have doubled to about nine per cent in the decade since mass European Union migration.

However, the proportion of overseas nationals in custody, at about seven per cent, is in line with their share of the general population.

The statistics suggest so-called new Scots are not more likely to commit serious crime than indigenous ones.

Iain Livingstone, Police Scotland's deputy chief constable responsible for co-ordinating criminal investigations, revealed the numbers as he detailed a new drive to tackle the international dimension of Scottish crime.

Mr Livingstone said referrals to Europol, the agency based in The Hague that co-ordinates law enforcement across the EU, had tripled since Scotland's national force began in April 2013.

Speaking at a seminar with Europol colleagues at the Scottish Police College in Fife, he said: "The increase in foreign offenders, particularly European offenders, has been marked over the last five years. It has easily more than doubled.

"We are talking about shoplifting, road traffic offences, sexual crime and violence."

Scotland's former eight territorial forces and the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA) made 298 referrals in 2012-13 to Europol, an average of about 25 a month.

Since the nine law enforcement bodies merged last year and the SCDEA's liaison officer in the Netherlands became a national Police Scotland asset, the number of referrals has topped 1500, or about 75 a month.

Mr Livingstone said: "These numbers reflect both the increasing internationalisation of the communities we are policing and the greater effectiveness Police Scotland has brought to bear upon this. We are able to look right across the whole of Scotland and add that European expertise at any local police area. Every part of Scotland is affected by this."

The share of Scotland's population born outside the UK, which includes people who are ethnic Scots and not foreign nationals, rose from 3.8 per cent in 2001 to seven per cent at the 2011 census.

Then it totalled about 370,000, of whom just 134,000 were from the EU; and fewer than half of those were from the states of central, southern and Eastern Europe to have joined the bloc since 2001.

Migrants are more likely to be young and male, putting many of them in the demographic group most likely to have run-ins with the law for everything from bad driving to public drinking.

Law enforcement insiders stress this also applies to the Scots, often young and male, who find themselves in trouble with the law abroad.

Senior officers believe the increase in Scots living and travelling abroad, and foreigners north of the Border, means European Arrest Warrants (EAWs) have become a vital part in law enforcement. These allow police to extradite suspects quickly between EU states.

A vote will be held in the Commons on Monday on whether the UK should continue using them. Some 30 Tory backbenchers want their use to end, but Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to rely on the votes of Labour MPs to get his proposals to retain the EAWs through Westminster.

Mr Livingstone said: "The EAW is a critical tool and has made an ­enormous difference in our individual and collective experience throughout the EU."

Former Grampian Police officer Brian Donald, the chief of cabinet at Europol, added: "We used to hear about people waiting 10 years for extradition. We are now speaking about days, or, if it goes really badly, a month. In terms of policing reach, that is a remarkable change."