Crimes recorded by the police in Falkirk district fell by 6% last year, the Recorded Crime in Scotland 2016/17 statistics reveal.

Nationwide, recorded crime fell by 3% to reach the lowest level since 1974.

In Falkirk district, the total number of crimes dropped from 6099 to 5713. The figures show a sharp decrease in housebreaking (down 42% to 252 cases), theft from vehicles (down 51% to 40 cases), robbery (down 31% to 20 cases) and fire-raising (down 32% to 57 cases).

The number of non-sexual violent crimes was up in both Falkirk district and Scotland, but remained significantly lower than 10 years ago.

There was also a rise in sexual crimes, although rape and attempted rape was down by 15% in Falkirk district to 50 cases.

Falkirk West MSP and Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: “While the continued fall in recorded crime to a 43-year low is encouraging, I remain focused on ensuring that everyone feels safe in our communities. That demands a relentless focus on where crimes persist, to identify where best to strengthen the collective efforts of policing, public services and communities themselves.

“Through our strong and sustained focus on prevention, violent crime across Scotland is now almost half the level it was when the SNP came to power. However, I’m determined to build on this, ensuring further progress in future years. That’s why I have asked for more detailed analysis into how violence, and the factors behind it, are changing and what is needed to make our communities safer still.”

Mr Matheson also announced that justice, education and health experts will be invited to contribute to action to prevent sexual crime – and particularly offences involving young people.

It comes after research commissioned by the Justice Secretary suggested that about half of the increase in recorded sexual crimes in the past three years has been due to a rise in sexual “cyber crime”. The findings show the average age of both perpetrators and victims is substantially lower in sexual offences involving the internet.

Mr Matheson added: “The sexual crimes research makes clear that more work is required to understand why young males in particular are behaving in this way.

“While we have taken considerable steps in this area, such as our recent ‘intimate images’ campaign, the national action plan on internet safety and our Equally Safe strategy, I am bringing together an expert group to identify further steps needed to better tackle, and ultimately prevent, such offending.”

Solicitor General Alison Di Rollo QC hosted a summit last month to educate young people on sexual crimes.

She said: “Too many children and young people are coming into contact with our justice system as a result of sexual offending, and we know that technology has an increasingly significant part to play.

“I am delighted that this new expert group will now build on the success of the summit and, acting on the key messages we heard, identify and take the next steps to inform and protect our young people.”