OUTGOING Police Scotland chief constable Stephen House is under pressure to explain his claim that a rise in housebreakings in Edinburgh was linked to Eastern Europeans.

Figures obtained by the Sunday Herald show that only 9 of 4,935 housebreaking-related crimes in the Capital could be linked to individuals from that eastern Europe.

Edinburgh witnessed a 40% rise in the crime after the single force abolished the dedicated anti-burglary teams created by the old Lothian and Borders force.

In the second year of Police Scotland, 2014/15, the figure jumped by 11.6%

According to a transcript of a Scottish Police Authority meeting this year, House was asked about the rise in housebreakings, and said: “It is partly a youngster’s thing - young person’s thing. There are a variety of different methods and profiles of the crimes that are going on. It is not just one kind of housebreaking that is going on we do get a lot of shed breaks there is no doubt about that.

“There is also no doubt that there have been Eastern European groupings involved in a number of the crimes that we have been trying to deal with and that adds in its complications."

Following the chief constable’s remarks, a source close to the force came forward and disputed the Eastern European link.

On this basis, the Sunday Herald asked the force for the number of recorded housebreakings in Edinburgh in the last financial year.

Figures were also requested for the number of times citizens from Belarus, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia and Ukraine had been reported in connection with these crimes.

According to Police Scotland’s official figures, in 2014/15 there were 2283 recorded crimes relating to domestic housebreaking or attempts to commit the offence.

The figure was 1495 for non-domestic dwellings and 1157 for the same crime in a category marked “other”.

Of the 4935 total, six Poles were accused of domestic housebreaking and three were in the “other” category.

The number of Eastern Europeans formally accused of housebreaking, or of an attempt to do so, was around 0.2% of the total.

The force’s information management unit stated that not every person declared their nationality.

Alison Johnstone, a Scottish Greens MSP for the Lothians, said: "I'm at a loss to understand why the Chief Constable suggested a link with Eastern European groupings in relation to the spike in housebreakings in Edinburgh. This increase in crime concerned many of my constituents and it's essential, when responding to their concerns, that the information provided is accurate."

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Alison McInnes MSP said: “I am sure the Chief Constable will wish to clarify his remarks. The Eastern European community have enriched Scotland and we value their contribution.”

Chief Superintendent Andrew Morris, Head of Force Executive Support, said: “To attribute to the Chief Constable the comment that a spike in housebreakings in Edinburgh was down to Eastern European groupings would be taking his statement out of context and misquoting what he actually said. As is clear from the transcript provided, reference was being made about young offenders, with an additional point about Eastern European groupings."