The clear-up rate for housebreaking was 23.9 per cent in 2017-18, which was up from 22.5 per cent in the previous year. The rate has remained at similar levels over the past decade. Since the advent of devolution, the number of housebreakings recorded by the police has fallen by 73 per cent, to their lowest level since comparable records began.
I thank the cabinet secretary for that answer, which—phrased a little more bluntly—confirms that more than three quarters of housebreakings in Scotland go unsolved and unpunished under the Scottish National Party. That is a disgrace. When did the cabinet secretary last meet the chief constable specifically to discuss the issue?
The chief constable and I meet regularly and discuss how we can improve safety. I regularly talk about housebreaking with my officials and with the police.
On a serious point, when it comes to the clear-up rate, we want to ensure that it is better. However, Liam Kerr should not ignore the fact that housebreakings have fallen dramatically with the SNP in power. In fact, in the north-east—in which, I am sure, he has an interest—the number of housebreakings fell by 58 per cent between 2008-09 and 2017-18. The clear-up rate for housebreakings in the north-east has increased by 5 per cent in the past year, so we are starting to improve.
I agree with Liam Kerr that the clear-up rate should be higher, so we will continue to work with the police to ensure that that happens. I am sure, however, that he will welcome the fall in the number of housebreakings over the past decade.
There are many comparisons to make with England and Wales. We have seen a reduction in the number of housebreakings while there has been an increase in
England and Wales, in fact.
That might in part be because in Scotland we have invested in our police officers and the Police Service of Scotland. For example, we have awarded a 6.5 per cent pay increase, whereas the police service in
England and Wales is taking the United Kingdom Government to court because it will not pay police officers an appropriate amount.
In Scotland, since the SNP has been in power, we have increased police numbers to record levels, to 913 more than we inherited, while in
That is why we are seeing housebreakings reduce in Scotland while they increase in England and Wales. We will continue to invest in our police officers, and to make sure that Scotland is kept safe, while we leave the Conservatives to carp from a sedentary position.