MORE than 1,000 crimes involving people breaking Covid-19 restrictions were recorded by police in Renfrewshire in the space of a year.

The latest annual Recorded Crime in Scotland report shows the local authority was ranked sixth highest out of the nation’s 32 council areas when it came to crimes recorded under new coronavirus-related legislation.

The number of recorded crimes in Renfrewshire during 2020/21 also rose by 8% compared to the previous year.

However, this includes 1,093 crimes recorded under the new Covid legislation, which accounts for 13% of all crime recorded in Renfrewshire during this period.

In comparison, only six coronavirus-related crimes were recorded by police towards the end of the previous year.

The new figures, released by the Scottish Government, show that thefts from motor vehicles in Renfrewshire rose by almost 40% during 2020/21, despite the national picture showing an overall decrease of 29%.

Meanwhile, the number of homicides rose by two and recorded crimes of driving under the influence increased from 209 to 265 compared to 2019/20.

Shoplifting was down by 46%, while rape and attempted rape fell from 94 incidents to 64.

Chief Inspector James Kyle, Renfrewshire’s area commander, said caution is needed when viewing these figures through the lens of the pandemic.

He told The Gazette: “We continually monitor crime trends in the area and compare these to the national picture while working with our partners and the public to reduce and detect crime.

“With restrictions affecting retail and the way people interact and shop online, increased emphasis was placed on reducing financial harm and raising awareness of scams and opportunities for fraudulent activity in the digital world.

“Through increased reporting, we are now more aware of the methods cyber criminals use to perpetrate their crimes and have used this to better understand our approach and preventative response.

“With the potential for crime to have moved to indoor spaces, we are alive to the potential for this to create an opportunity for ‘hidden offending’ and have worked alongside partners to ensure those most vulnerable are safeguarded and provided with a collaborative service to support them where needed.

“As we head into the new year, we acknowledge that one victim is still too many and our commitment is to continue to work in collaboration with our partners to sustain this, whilst responding swiftly and effectively to any new or emerging threats.”