Nicola Sturgeon has indicated she will look into police claims that social distancing rules are preventing them from catching criminals responsible for Dundee break-ins.
Ms Sturgeon was reacting to comments made by Tayside’s most senior officer, Chief Superintendent Andrew Todd, in his quarterly report to Dundee councillors.
In his report, Mr Todd blamed the restrictions for a fall in detection rate for those particular crimes from 32.4% to 18.3%.
He said the increase in the proportion of break-ins that went unsolved was “directly impacted by some Covid-19 restrictions and social distancing measures”.
Police Scotland declined to elaborate on Mr Todd’s position when given the chance to do so, claiming proper procedure was that the chief superintendent should answer councillors’ questions at a meeting on Monday before expanding on the points raised.
Ms Sturgeon was questioned about Mr Todd’s comments at her daily coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh.
The first minister said she “would be very happy to discuss directly with him or others in Police Scotland if there are particular issues that need to be addressed”.
She added: “I will probably have a closer look before saying any more.”
Later, a Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We are incredibly grateful for the hard work of the police during the pandemic and their professionalism balancing protecting people in unprecedented circumstances and enforcing the restrictions. We are in regular contact with Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Federation.”
Tayside Superintendent Elaine Logue said: “As the figures contained with the scrutiny report were recorded during an unprecedented time, it is extremely difficult to make swift conclusions about crime trends and we must take into account the extraordinary period during which they were recorded. It’s also important to recognise that the data contained with the report is a snapshot of one quarter period and subject to change over time.
“The unprecedented coronavirus restrictions have undoubtedly changed some of the ways officers respond to calls and conduct investigations to minimise contact and reduce the risk to members of the public, as well as police officers and staff. However, investigations into domestic house break-ins can also be complex and protracted, leading to a decrease in the relative number of charges at a particular point in time. Investigations which also rely on forensic examination results can also take longer to detect.
“Inquiries into outstanding reports of this type of crime, with support from Tayside Division’s Community Investigation Unit, continue.”