Fresh fears as residents ‘plagued’ with break-ins

Residents of the Greenend Estate claim to have been plagued by break-ins. Picture: Toby Williams
Residents of the Greenend Estate claim to have been plagued by break-ins. Picture: Toby Williams
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Fresh concerns have been raised about housebreaking in the south of the Capital – just days after police said a crackdown on thieves was taking effect.

Residents in the quiet Greenend Estate and cul-de-sac The Spinney, in Gilmerton and Liberton, claim they have been “plagued” by break-ins.

Locals claim that there were almost 20 break-ins and sneak-in thefts in the Greenend Estate in the past six months – however police insist there were only ten incidents in total.

The spate prompted local MP Ian Murray to launch a fresh attack on the Scottish Government for “Glasgowising” the city’s police force.

Edinburgh officers re-launched Operation RAC in April this year, to crack down on an epidemic of domestic break-ins and linked car thefts.

Bosses last week said the drive – which prioritised housebreaking cases across the city and bolstered local teams with national support – was having an impact, with a 60 per cent drop in housebreakings.

But Mr Murray, Labour politician for Edinburgh South, said that the fear of break-ins remained a “constant concern” for residents.

Housebreaking has been a particularly sensitive issue for the Capital, as dedicated squads from the legacy Lothian and Borders police force were disbanded when the new national police structure was created.

The city re-established its housebreaking teams in December 2013 under Operation RAC, after the amount of solved cases plummeted under the single force.

When Mr Murray wrote to Scottish Justice Secretary Michael Matheson to seek reassurance about the recent spate, the MSP replied that 94 officers were involved in the current Operation RAC scheme.

He wrote: “The Scottish Government is committed to protecting and supporting frontline services and local community policing across the whole of Scotland – supported by this government’s continued commitment to 1000 additional officers.”

Mr Murray said the reply was far from convincing – and said the “scourge” of housebreaking has “plagued” the south of Edinburgh for years.

He said: “Whilst the police have increased the resources into the housebreaking teams, after they were scrapped, it is clear from the volume of these incidents that more needs to be done. The concern that Police Scotland has ‘Glasgowised’ Edinburgh’s policing fuels the fears that these issues are not being dealt with properly.

“The Scottish Government needs to do more to make Police Scotland work. It’s all good and well for them to trumpet 1000 extra officers but if they are merely backfilling the thousands of administrative staff that have left the police then it will dilute what we see on our local streets.”

A spokesman for Police Scotland said that there had been ten incidents in The Spinney and Greenend areas relating to break-ins, attempted break-ins and thefts from vehicles.

He said: “Inquiries into these offences are ongoing as part of Operation RAC and anyone with information tis asked to come forward. Operation RAC continues to target acquisitive crime offenders and has resulted in a significant reduction in housebreaking and associated 
criminal activity. However, we will not become complacent in our pursuit of individuals involved in crimes of this nature.

“The public also have a vital role to play in tackling housebreaking by ensuring they have appropriate security measures in place at their homes, outbuildings and business premises.

“Anyone wishing more information on crime prevention can visit our website at www.scotland.police.uk.”

kaye.nicolson@edinburghnews.com