POLICE in the Lothians and Borders have confirmed there has been a hike in the number of detected crimes involving indecent images of children.

In the latest figures, which were released this week, officers brought charges against 72 different individuals in the policing area during 2015.

The figure is more than 20 per cent higher than the 59 offenders who were caught the previous year.

A spokesman for Police Scotland said: "Police Scotland has a dedicated Cyber Crime Unit to proactively identify persons suspected of online child sexual abuse by exploiting advancements in technology, digital media and the internet.

"In addition, Police Scotland works in partnership with national and international partners, including cyber-crime experts and other law enforcement agencies.

"This, together with the full range of investigative techniques, apply allow us to identify those who use computer networks to sexually abuse and exploit children and young persons."

Across Scotland, the number of people charged with offences involving indecent images of children increased from 554 in 2014 to 657 the following year.

Outwith the Lothians and Borders, other areas which saw hikes in the number of offenders were Greater Glasgow (41 to 97), the North East (50 to 81), and the Highlands and Islands (24 to 46).

In Edinburgh there was an increase of one, from 72 to 73, and in neighbouring Dumfries and Galloway the number of people charged rose from 13 to 15.

Ayrshire, Renfrewshire, and Argyll all saw the number of people charged drop during the same period.

The Police Scotland spokesman added: "I would wish to provide reassurance that our dedicated Cyber Crime Unit together with Police Scotland's National Child Abuse Investigation Unit and specialist detective officers in each of our local divisional Public Protection Units are absolutely committed to protecting child and young persons who may be at risk of harm and the identification and investigation of those who pose such a risk."