CRIME fell across East Lothian by nearly 14 per cent during the coronavirus pandemic, with house break-ins, serious assaults and road traffic offences all decreasing.

Anti-social behaviour incidents rose by 37 per cent, with the number of complaints to police about anti-social behaviour also increasing by 54 per cent.

Presenting a report on crime in the county between April and September this year, Chief Superintendent John McKenzie, divisional commander for Lothian and Scottish Borders, said the figures had to be viewed in the context of “unprecedented times”.

He told a virtual meeting of East Lothian Council’s police, fire and community safety scrutiny committee that the first six months of the year from April 1 to the end of September were “like no other, with unprecedented challenges across all of society”.

He added: “We are living in a time which will not be comparable to any other and the figures in this report represent that position.”

Commenting on Covid-19-related breaches, Ch Supt McKenzie said officers continued to follow the four ‘E’s approach: engage, explain, encourage and enforce.

He told the committee: “Enforcement will be seen as the last point.”

However, he warned: “Flagrant breaches of public health measures in relation to Covid will be dealt with.”

The police report recorded a significant fall in the number of children reported missing between April and September this year, 75, compared with 145 in the same period last year – presumably due to lockdown. Domestic abuse crimes also fell from 377 to 342.

Hate crimes and incidents both rose during the same period, from 52 hate incidents last year to 73 this year, and 40 hate crimes rising to 64 this year.

The committee was told that, of the 64 hate crimes, 16 had been directed at police officers.

Sex crimes rose slightly during the period; however, there was a significant rise in detection rates.

Violent crimes also fell, with common assaults down by more than 11 per cent, from 409 in the period last year to 363 this year, and serious assaults down from 21 last year to 19 this year.

House break-ins fell, with 19 homes targeted this year compared with 50 during the same period last year, and all break-ins, including sheds and businesses, were down from 118 to 64.

The report said: “It is acknowledged that through the lockdown period many more people were at home and, alongside continued home working, there is less opportunity for thieves to commit crime.

“As a result, the figures have been positively impacted, with far fewer victims of crime.”

The number of complaints about on-duty police officers fell from 57 in the period last year to 30 this year; however, complaints about quality of service rose from 11 to 37.

The report noted: “East Lothian has received six Covid-19-related complaints about the police and the key theme was lack of police action as regards the enforcement of Covid-19 guidelines.”