An Irvine solicitor claims thousands of criminals are escaping prosecution every year as crimes are being “swept under the carpet”.

Simon Brown says there is a massive gap between the number of crimes reported to police and the number which actually make it to court.

According to Mr Brown, Police Scotland’s latest statistics show there were 12,369 reported crimes in East and North Ayrshire between April and October of this year, but claims only 7,836 cases have been dealt with by the Procurator Fiscal at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court since January 2018 – leaving a deficit of 4,533.

He made his claims in a series of tweets alleging that there is a disparity between the number of crimes committed in North and East Ayrshire versus the number of prosecutions.

He claims that defence solicitors have noticed a drop in the number of prosecutions and that cases are “being diverted away from the courts” and those cases which do make court are “being diluted” – being heard in JP Court rather than in Sheriff Court and in Sheriff Court rather than High Court.

He said: “Thousands of reported offences have all been diverted away from the courts. The bottom line is this. It’s easy for Humza Yousaf and the Scottish Government to say crime is falling, but the reality seems to be prosecutions are falling, and crimes are being swept under the carpet. Tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of crimes.”

Mr Brown says in the last two years alone his company has defended 1,300 less cases than the previous two years. He alleges the reason for the drop in case numbers is due to government cuts and the Scottish Government trying to save money on legal aid, not falling crime numbers.

He said: “As defence solicitors we are seeing the number of cases we defend drop year on year and I know from speaking to other solicitors that they are in the same situation.

“The KM number relates to every single case that the Procurator Fiscal has dealt with. So that’s everything from unexplained deaths to parking tickets to urinating in the street. At the moment we are sitting at 7,836 in the KM numbers. All of those things are in that complete number, but not all will get to court of course, so the disparity between prosecuted crimes and reported crimes must actually be much higher.

“And remember these figures are just from Kilmarnock. There are 39 Sheriff courts in Scotland, some of them an awful lot busier. What is the real amount of crime hidden from the public?”

“The government would have you believe that’s because crime is falling, but if that was the case they would be the first government to reduce crime during austerity.

A spokesman for the Procurator Fiscal said: “The Procurator Fiscal deals with every case on its own individual facts and circumstances and will take prosecutorial action where there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to do so.

“Effective action is not limited to court proceedings. Prosecutors have a number of Direct Measures at their disposal. Direct Measures can be a quick and effective way to deal with cases, making offenders face up to the consequences of their actions without using valuable court time.”