Midlothian online sex crime sees huge increase in offences

Tuesday August 22nd 2023


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Online sex offences and sextortion cases have risen across Midlothian despite police campaigns to increase public awareness of the dangers.

Police Scotland said between April and June this year the number of crimes involving taking, keeping and sharing indecent photos of children rose by over 76 per cent from a five year average of 3.4 incidents to 6 incidents, while reports of people communicating indecently rose by more than 95 per cent from 4.6 to 9 over the same periods.

And they said incidents of sextortion, where people are persuaded to share an intimate photo of themselves which is then used to blackmail them, continue to spark concern rising across Lothian and Borders division from a five year average of 21 cases to 26 with four in Midlothian between April and June this year.

A report to Midlothian Police and Fire and Rescue Board, yesterday, said the increase in offences was led by online criminals.

It said: “These increases are driven by online offending where we continue to see patterns impacting on all age groups and that highlight a continued increase in favour of offending online.

“Seeking to raise awareness of how to remain safe within the cyber arena, Midlothian Community officers delivered internet safety and cyber bullying inputs to raise awareness and will continue to deliver these inputs to all Midlothian school age young persons throughout to upcoming school year.”

Local area commander Jim Robertson told the board that police were committed to keeping people safe from online attacks.

He said detection rates for offenders who communicated indecently were nearly 67 per cent – 20 per cent higher than he previous three months, while nearly 84 per cent of those involved in indecent photos of children were caught.

He said: “Both these increases in detection rates demonstrates our commitment to protecting vulnerable people in a physical and digital world.”

The incidents were included in the Quarter one report for 2023/24 presented to the board on crime in Midlothian.

It revealed a fall in domestic abuse reports and housebreaking incidents with a huge 31 per cent fall in road casualties which was attributed to ongoing operations tackling speeding hot spots across the county.

The number of serious assault rose alongside the number of robberies however the force reported a 100 per cent detection rate for both types of crimes during the first three months of the financial year.

The number of common assaults recorded were 262 which represented a 21 per cent increase on the five year average for the time of year with a detection rate of just under 68 per cent.

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