SOME "encouraging steps" have been taken to tackle serious and sexual crime in the Forth Valley.

Figures to go in front of the Scottish Police Authority this week, covering the period between April and December 2019, show that the number of rapes reported has fallen by 17 per cent, compared to the year before.

Similarly, indecent and sexual assaults also decreased by 30 per cent when comparing the same time periods.

Domestic abuse legislation was recently introduced to cover coercive and controlling behaviour and with 79 crimes recorded, this accounted for an overall rise in violent crime across the division, which covers the Wee County.

When these incidents are removed, the figures show there were four more crimes recorded compared to the year before.

There was a reduction in the recorded number of serious assaults by six per cent while detection rates remain consistent at around 80 per cent.

Chief Superintendent Alan Gibson, divisional commander for the Forth Valley, said: "We have made some encouraging steps in tackling some very significant criminal offences.

"It is very positive to note that serious assaults and sexual crimes such as sexual assault, indecent assault and rape have all fallen.

"Within our busy town and city centres, we have regular deployments of officers to deter such offences and provide a visible and reassuring presence to our communities.

"We also take robust action against perpetrators of these offences and it is my hope that such action serves as a warning to others who may have looked to commit similar incidents."

In the Forth Valley, vehicle crime was also on the down, decreasing by six per cent overall.

The police largely attributes this to cross-divisional work aimed at deterring vehicle crime and identifying offenders.

However, there has been some increase in incidents of robbery and domestic housebreakings.

There is a renewed focus to tackle these types of crimes, at the same time, commercial housebreakings did see a decrease..

C Supt Gibson added: "While each area of Forth Valley, like each area of Scotland, is different, we know that 60 per cent of violent crimes involves alcohol and occur during the weekend, predominantly within private residences.

"It is essential, therefore, that we continue to work with relevant partners to tackle alcohol and substance addiction and signpost individuals to the relevant support agencies, while at the same time investigating all crimes with the utmost professionalism and thoroughness to provide justice for victims.

"We note the rise in acquisitive crime and while we will continue to do all we can to tackle incidents such as public space robberies, there are important steps our communities can take to safeguard their homes and businesses from being targeted by housebreakers."

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