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By ALAN MCEWEN Published on 01/06/2013 12:01
EVERY housebreaker caught in Edinburgh is set to face up to five years in jail under the first move of its kind in Scotland.
Prosecutors today unveiled the tough new approach which will see anyone snared by police after a break-in brought to court on a more serious indictment charge.
At present, two-thirds of those accused of a housebreaking are dealt with at summary level, which carries a maximum prison term of just 12 months.
Now anyone arrested for the offence over the next three months will be indicted at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, and could face a maximum five-year sentence.
The radical change is being piloted in the Capital to see if it reduces the number of break-ins in the city, and could lead to a roll-out across the country.
John Logue, Procurator Fiscal for the East of Scotland, said that the Crown Office hopes the availability of longer sentences would have the “double effect of deterrence and giving greater public reassurance”.
Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont today welcomed the move, adding that the authorities had previously “underestimated” the impact of break-ins on victims.
The upgraded punishments, which take effect from Monday, are being launched during the summer months when many residents are away on holiday, leaving homes unoccupied.
Mr Logue said: “We hope that longer potential sentences will be a deterrent although sentencing, of course, remains a matter for the court to decide.
“If the court thinks that a sentence of more than 12 months, which is the maximum in summary cases, is appropriate then a longer sentence will be available. This change will provide that option.
“Housebreaking is a traumatic experience for victims. The effect is not limited to the loss of high-value items or damage to property, but also includes the loss of sentimental items and, perhaps the most profound effect, the loss of security and safety for victims in their own home