VIOLENT crime, fraud and domestic abuse incidents have increased in Fife but there has been a welcome drop in sex offences, housebreaking and shoplifting.

Police Scotland also hailed the "significant increase" in the detection rate for rape and thanked the "vast majority" of the public for adhering to Covid restrictions.

The crime figures for the Kingdom, from the end of March 2020 to the start of April 2021, were presented to the Scottish Police Authority's policing performance committee on Tuesday.

Chief Superintendent Derek McEwan, Divisional Commander for Fife, said: “Protecting vulnerable people from harm is one of our top priorities and this is reflected by our increase in solvency for sexual crimes.

“We’re also encouraged by the drop in overall recorded crime, but are cognisant of the timeframe this reduction has taken place within.

“As Covid restrictions ease, we will continue to report on changes to the policing requirements of communities and the challenge of maintaining higher detection rates in the context of reported crime, which is closer to pre-pandemic levels."

The report card for Fife police shows the total number of crimes dropped by 179 to 13,581, although the force acknowledged that coronavirus restrictions and lockdowns over the past 12 months have had a sizeable impact.

Detections were up, from 8,398 to 8,559, giving a 63 per cent success rate.

The number of domestic abuse incidents climbed to 4,902, a rise of 352 from the previous year,

Violent crime was up too, from 575 cases to 640, although within that category the number of murders, culpable homicides, attempted murders and serious assaults all dropped.

The big jump was in threats and extortion, rocketing from 24 to 90, while child abuse, robbery and assault with intent to rob were also up.

The detection rate remained high at 85 per cent.

Sex crimes fell, from 1,179 to 1,163 offences.

Rape and attempted rape dropped from 212 to 196 while indecent / sexual assaults were down from 438 to 365.

The force said there had been a "significant increase" in the detection rate for these offences, climbing from 59 and 57 per cent to 75 and 77 per cent respectively.

There was a slight rise in the number of people caught taking, distributing and possessing indecent photos of children, offences under the Communications Act and sexual exposure.

Crimes of dishonesty plummeted from 6,313 to 5,637 offences over the past 12 months.

With 'stay at home' messages and many businesses closed during lockdown, it's perhaps no surprise that housebreaking, including attempts, fell from 728 to 492 and shoplifting dropped from 2,145 to 1,496.

Common theft and motor vehicle crime were also down but online fraud has been a huge problem across the country and cases here increased from 732 to 1,068.

Fire-raising, vandalism and malicious mischief increased, from 950 cases to 1,093, while 'other crimes', which include carrying an offensive weapon or a knife, producing and selling drugs, were up from 2,800 to 3,139.

The number of people caught with a weapon increased from 374 to 410 while the total number of drug crimes went up from 1,185 to 1,215.

Mr McEwan said: "I want to recognise the dedication and professionalism of Fife’s police officers and staff, whose hard work has contributed to positive reductions in various crime types throughout the Kingdom.

"These efforts are reflected in the rise in public confidence in policing. I would also like to thank and pay tribute to the vast majority within our communities who adhered to the Covid restrictions during 2020."