People urged to stay safe online after fraud doubles

Ayrshire divisional police commander Faroque Hussain.

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People in Ayrshire and Arran are being urged to stay safe online after reports of fraud more than doubled year-on-year.

A total of 273 crimes of fraud were recorded in the division between April 1 and June 30, 2020, up from the 116 recorded in the same period last year.

The rise reflects a national increase in fraud which is increasingly cyber-enabled as criminals take advantage of new technologies to profit from their victims.

The Management Information data published today for Ayrshire and Arran also showed positive results of proactive policing by officers in the division on crimes such as knife-carrying and drugs.

Work by officers in Ayrshire led to an increase in recorded crimes of the carrying of offensive weapons with 36 crimes recorded, 10 more than last year.

Crimes relating to the supply of drugs remained stable (87 this year, compared with 85 last year) but there was a 20 per cent increase in detections as officers targeted drug dealers.

Road policing officers have continued patrols across the division and the number of drink and drug driving offences rose by more than 54 per cent (from 99 to 153) while detections also increased from 98 to 151.

It comes as the Police Scotland Q1 Performance Report, introduced by deputy chief constable Fiona Taylor, showed that public confidence in policing was up by 20 percentage points during the first quarter of 2020-21.

Chief superintendent Faroque Hussain, commander of Ayrshire Division, said: ‘Police Scotland officers have been working throughout the pandemic keeping people in Ayrshire safe in public, private and virtual spaces.

‘As DCC Taylor has said, this has been an extraordinary period and it is too early to draw any conclusions about long-term crime trends. However, we are committed to taking weapons and drugs off our streets and the latest figures show our determination to protect our communities from harm.

‘There is no doubt that criminals will use any opportunity to exploit a situation and we have seen targeted attempts by fraudsters to take advantage of the COVID pandemic. We work with colleagues in our specialist resources to tackle issues such as fraud and we will persistently pursue those who set out to cause misery to our communities. It is important that people also remain vigilant and take steps to protect themselves from fraud.

‘It is disappointing that despite fewer cars being on the road, some motorists have continued to drive dangerously and under the influence of alcohol and drugs. The devastating impact of drink and drug driving cannot be understated and we are committed to reducing road casualties and improving road safety in the division.’