Dumping ground for stolen bikes is cleared

Police have an increased presence in Forth area. Picture: Scott Louden
Police have an increased presence in Forth area. Picture: Scott Louden
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AN overgrown dumping ground for stolen motorbikes has been slashed back as part of a crime crackdown.

Offenders were forced to clear away undergrowth in West Pilton Park during their community service.

The site had become a heavily weeded haven for joyriders dumping stolen motorbikes – and now the makeover is set to be repeated in other areas of Muirhouse and Pilton.

Inspector David Happs, from Police Scotland, said: “By clearing away this undergrowth, it will make the area significantly safer and it will hinder the ­disposal of stolen vehicles.”

Moves to cut crime in the trouble-hit north of Edinburgh are starting to bear fruit, police and councillors believe.

The StrongerNorth campaign was launched in the Forth and Inverleith wards after a crime wave saw offenders as young as 12 stealing motorbikes and terrorising locals.

The situation reached crisis point when ­Chinese takeaway owner Jie Yu was stabbed in West Pilton in October.

The council-led scheme has seen more than 70 arrests in a month, while high-visibility police patrols have been ­bolstered by improvements to lighting and CCTV. Since December 1, nine ­stolen cars were found in the Forth area, while two people were charged after being caught with suspected stolen motorbikes.

Last month’s figures reveal that 42 people in north Edinburgh were charged in connection with violent crimes, while a further 16 were apprehended for housebreakings. The blitz also saw ten people charged for suspected hate crimes, and three charged in connection with two fire-raising incidents, including a blaze which gutted St Paul’s church.

Insp Happs said: “Our Crime Prevention Department also recently conducted an environmental scan across West Pilton and made several recommendations to Edinburgh council including improvements to CCTV, street lighting, general security and local play areas to increase community safety.

“These are all positive steps, but there is still work to be done.”

Councillor Cammy Day, the city’s community safety leader, said the results proved that everyone involved was committed to the crackdown.

He said: “Environmental wardens are out every day patrolling and speaking to residents, who are key to the campaign, and I urge anyone who has concerns about criminal activity to phone police.

“We’re in daily contact with the police officers involved.”

Willie Black, secretary of West Pilton and West Granton Community Council, said the StrongerNorth drive was welcome, however a major culture change was needed to stop criminals from reoffending.

“They are being charged, but is this going to change behaviour? It could be that they end up back on the streets,” he said. “There have been positive things to come out of it and hopefully we can keep going and break down the cycle.”

kaye.nicolson@edinburghnews.com