Recorded crime has dropped in Ayrshire but the reality is more complicated, according to the area’s Chief Superintendent.

There has been a slight decrease in domestic abuse incidents but Ayrshire’s police officer, Chief Superintendent Faroque Hussain said this ‘may not reflect what is happening behind closed doors’.

There is also evidence that some criminals are taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to exploit people.

CS Hussain said: “People are being targeted with emails, texts, phone calls and WhatsApp messages offering advice and treatment for the coronavirus.

“I would ask Ayrshire’s communities to please be on your guard to this. Please be vigilant – never give any personal data over communications devices or to anyone who turns up unannounced at your home. Do not be afraid to say ‘no thanks’.

“Like the national picture , Ayrshire has seen a drop in recorded crime since the physical distancing measures set out by the government came into effect in Scotland on March 23.

“We must be careful not to make assumptions about crime trends because this information only covers a relatively short period of time. It could be months or years before we have a clear picture of the effect that physical distancing requirements have had on some crime categories in Scotland.”

Across Scotland, recorded crime has fallen by around a quarter since measures to support physical distancing came into effect.

Serious assaults have reduced by around 40 per cent while common assault has fallen by just over a quarter between Tuesday, March 24, and Sunday, April 19, when compared to the same time last year. Housebreakings are down around 30 per cent.

Scotland’s Deputy Chief Constable Fiona Taylor said: “The significant changes that everyone is having to adjust to are undoubtedly having an effect on the nature and level of demand on policing.”

CS Hussain wants to remind people that Police Scotland officers still want to prevent harm by identifying people who may be at risk, and putting in place measures that will help keep them safe.

He thanked Ayrshire’s three local authorities and other partners for providing police staff with the support they need.

He said: “Ayrshire has some beautiful places to visit and these will still be here when this public health crisis has passed. I would welcome the continued support from our communities to stick with the government guidance to protect the NHS and save lives.

“In the meantime, if you do need police assistance, please contact us in the usual way."