POLICE chiefs have announced plans to make more officers available in the Capital at night and at weekends to deal with violent incidents and improve community policing.
From January, shift patterns are set to change so officers will be available at times of highest demand.
It will mean a more visible police presence in the city in the evenings and at weekends.
An appointments system will also be introduced to allow members of the public to arrange a convenient time to go to a police station or have an officer visit them at home.
The shift changes should also make it easier for local officers to attend community council meetings.
The move comes amid strong public opposition to plans to close public counters at five city police stations and slash the opening hours at three more, and city council proposals to cut finding for extra officers because they fear they are being deployed away from their local areas.
Writing in tonight’s Evening News, city police commander Chief Superintendent Mark Williams says: “I know that people in Edinburgh want visible and accessible local officers who are there when needed and who prioritise and tackle the issues that are important to their community.
“From early January, I will be increasing the number of community officers on duty across the city and, in contrast to now, Community Policing Teams will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“Edinburgh Division will also be operating an appointment system which means people will be able to see officers about non-emergency issues at a time and place that is convenient for them.”
Last month, Chief Constable Sir Stephen House told a Scottish Parliament committee that shift patterns in Edinburgh were changing “to make more officers available to deal with night-time violence”.
The numbers of officers available in the evenings and at weekends is still to be finalised, but the move is intended to target available resources better.
Edinburgh West Lib Dem MP Mike Crockart said the changes were all very well, but could not be a substitute for keeping police counters open. “They are a visible presence at the heart of communities,” he said.
He added that community councils wanted their own local officer to attend meetings, not just any officer.
He said: “Having more officers generally available will make no difference to that. It’s that individual’s shift patterns which will allow that, not shift patterns in general.”