Saughton residents ‘feel safer’ after crackdown

The i6 was cancelled last year after problems were discovered
The i6 was cancelled last year after problems were discovered

RESIDENTS in Saughton have praised the work of police, hailing an operation to end a spate of vandalism and antisocial behaviour as a “success”.

A five-day operation was launched at the end of May after a number of incidents involving a group of youths in the area left neighbours “too scared to go outside”.

Officers confirmed 13 people – aged between 16 and 58 – had been reported for a number of offences including threatening and abusive behaviour, possession of drugs, offensive weapons and breach of bail conditions between Wednesday, May 24 and Sunday, May 29, while a further four were given official warnings.

Security measures were stepped up after a months-long campaign of intimidation by the youths who reportedly ransacked gardens, ripped up fence posts, damaged vehicles and subjected local people to threats and homophobic abuse.

The incidents led council officials to remove benches from a seating area near a children’s play park after swings and other equipment were destroyed.

However, residents have admitted to feeling “safer” since mobile CCTV units and plain-clothes officers were deployed as part of the operation.

Officers on bikes and “high-visibility reassurance patrols” have also patrolled the area.

One resident, who asked not to be named, said he was happy with the increased police presence in the area.

He said: “It has been improving slightly, there are more police on the street at nights.

“There are still groups of young people who congregate outside, there’s still that intimidation but there are less of them now.”

Anne Paterson, leader of Stenhouse, Saughton Mains and Whitson community council, praised the use of police resources in the neighbourhood.

She said: “The resources police have used in this operation have been fantastic and have gone a long way to making our area feel safer.

“We still have a few problems, but the general trend and the feeling I’m getting from local people is that things are steadily improving.

“We’ll have another meeting now with police on Monday to discuss the way forward, but this has been an encouraging start to this campaign.”

Chief Inspector Helen Harrison, south west area commander, said: “Tackling antisocial behaviour, in particular behaviour involving youths, in the Saughton area of Edinburgh continues to be one of our local priorities.

“This partnership operation was the fourth we’ve carried out in the area and enabled us to provide additional patrols and an enhanced visible police presence in the area, along with giving us lots of opportunity to speak to local residents, businesses and youths.

“The results and feedback were extremely positive, but I do want to reassure the local community that we will continue to focus, along with our partners, on addressing these issues.”

newsen@edinburghnews.com