Fears grow over crime in Edinburgh

Antisocial behaviour is a problem for many. Picture: Jayne Emsley (Posed by models)
Antisocial behaviour is a problem for many. Picture: Jayne Emsley (Posed by models)
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Satisfaction with the way violent crime, antisocial behaviour and vandalism are dealt with in the Capital has crashed to a six-year low following the introduction of Police Scotland, according to a major council survey.

Just half of residents now say they are happy at the way antisocial behaviour is managed compared with 2009 when the Edinburgh People Survey began, with approval ratings falling by between 19 and 21 per cent across a range of public safety issues.

The amount of crime has been absolutely ridiculous.”

Robert Pearson

The figures, compiled following the first full year of Police Scotland, raise questions about the level of confidence in local policing in the wake of concerns over changes to housebreaking investigations, the closure of police counters and a surge in theft and violence in the north of the Capital.

Edinburgh West Liberal Democrat MP and former policeman Mike Crockart said senior officers needed to focus more on local concerns.

He said: “These are a worrying set of statistics for Police Scotland with significant falls in satisfaction across a wide range of issues. It’s not a great surprise following the series of controversies about policies around housebreaking, station public counter closures, stop-and-search and the increased use of armed officers.

“People want local priorities reflected in local policing decisions. These poor figures won’t be fixed by the Chief Constable, it needs local commanders given the authority to organise their resources to meet local needs.”

North Edinburgh has been hit by a spate of violent crime, fireraising and motorbike thefts, with joyriders blighting the community, and just one in five residents say they are satisfied with crime management. The rock-bottom ratings for tackling crime come despite the high-profile Strong North campaign championed by the council, Police Scotland and community leaders.

But community safety leader Cammy Day said the Stronger North approach of working in partnership was delivering results and would be rolled out to other areas through a new agreement on city policing being negotiated with Police Scotland that would target 44 council-funded local officers on community concerns.

Councillor Day said: “With Stronger North, we’re asking if there is a local community response to a problem, rather than using the law or legislation. People have welcomed that targeted intervention earlier on.”

He added: “There are quite a number of complexities in dealing with antisocial behaviour cases. We can’t just throw someone out of their house because there’s been a complaint. There’s a fairly lengthy piece of investigative work that needs to happen initially.”

Tenants and Residents in Muirhouse chairman Robert Pearson said he was not surprised at the survey results, but welcomed the impact Stronger North was having.

He said: “The amount of crime has been absolutely ridiculous. When the survey was carried out, the council were probably seen to be doing nothing to try and combat these issues.

“Back then, when residents were reporting things like vandalism, it was at the bottom of the pile to get fixed. At least the council are now responding.”

Chief Superintendant Mark Williams insisted crime figures were down, but said officers were consulting with residents on their priorities for policing.

The police commander of the Edinburgh City Division said: “It’s great to see that 88 per cent of residents are happy with their community and 83 per cent feel safe after dark.

“Edinburgh was recently voted the third safest city in the world to visit and this is backed up by clear evidence – violent crime is down 16 per cent over the last two years and over 25 per cent over the last five years. Robbery is down by 22 per cent over the last two years alone and our approach to domestic violence and sexual crime has seen detection rates rocket.

“Over 6000 residents have responded to our consultation on policing priorities and in the year ahead we’ll be focusing extra resources on tackling housebreaking and vehicle crime.”

Grant Stott: ‘It seems housebreaking is rife’

RADIO star Grant Stott says a horror break-in at his parents’ home was a shocking insight into the scale of Edinburgh’s housebreaking nightmare – and urged homeowners to secure their property.

The Forth 1 host was left reeling a fortnight ago when his parents’ home was ransacked by thieves, who callously killed their pet goldfish by pouring vodka into their tank.

The incident left Lexia and Leslie Stott, both 75, shaken and upset – and the DJ and former police officer said he had been overwhelmed by the number of people who had been in touch with him to talk of similar experiences.

“I get the impression that housebreaking in Edinburgh is rife,” said Stott. “The impact it has on people’s lives is huge.

“It’s not just stealing things, it’s the sheer devilment of destroying property. There’s only so much that the police can do. They can’t be everywhere, all-seeing eyes all the time.

“People have to take responsibility to make their homes as safe as possible.”