THERE were more than 1,000 criminal breaches of coronavirus restrictions in West Dunbartonshire last year, according to new figures.

Police statistics for 2020-21 showed one in 20 of such crimes in Scotland took place in the local authority, for a total of 1,098. There had been just seven in the previous year, which ended just a few days after pandemic lockdowns began.

Despite stay-at-home orders and limits on travel, driving while under the influence offences nearly doubled from 2019-20 to 280 last year – a 93 per cent rise and the highest the figure has been in a decade.

Dangerous and careless driving was also up by 28 per cent to the highest number of crimes since 2013-14.

And unlawful use of a motor vehicle reached a five-year high with a 46 per cent increase from the previous year and 1,092 offences.

But speeding saw one of the biggest decreases in crimes, dropping 42 per cent to 322 last year, compared to 580 the year before and 973 a decade ago. Seatbelt offences were cut in half to 56 in a year. In 2011-12, there were 375 such offences.

Jackie Baillie, Dumbarton MSP, said: “Any increase in crime is of concern and I am grateful to the police for all their hard work in trying to keep our communities safe throughout the pandemic.

“I suspect the increase in offences relates largely to visitors to the area, particularly in Balloch over the summer months, when large numbers of young people came to Loch Lomond and there were increases throughout the area which may have driven some of the higher numbers of motor vehicle offences.

“Tourism increases the pressure on any area, and whilst it is welcome for the local economy, the police should be given extra resources so that they can address any rise in disorder.”

Fraud was up 31 per cent in a year and the highest it’s been in 10 years as criminals found new ways to target residents.

Breaches of the peace were down slightly but remain relatively stable in number of around 1,200 a year in West Dunbartonshire.

The Reporter previously reported that sexual assaults were up in the second quarter of 2021 compared to the previous year. But overall for the year, the number of crimes are down 16 per cent. Rape and attempted rape crimes were down 22 per cent.

Attempted murder and serious assaults were down 31 per cent last year and common assaults numbered the exact same 907 compared to a year earlier.

With shops closed for so much in the past two years from Covid-19 restrictions, shoplifting saw the biggest drop in crime numbers of 44 per cent compared to the year before at 322. Ten years ago, there were 741 such crimes. Thefts by opening lockfast places were up by four to 25 crimes.

Fire-raising crimes were up slightly last year but half the number of those a decade earlier.