A TARGETED drive to tackle crime in the wake of a horrific stabbing has led to a significant drop in violent attacks and theft.
Concerns about antisocial behaviour in West Pilton and the wider north Edinburgh area came to head when Chinese takeaway owner Jie Yu was knifed by two thugs after they stole his car in October last year.
The attempted murder of Mr Yu sparked the launch of Stronger North, which has seen additional extra police resources and tougher action on antisocial council tenants.
Willie Black, secretary of West Pilton and West Granton community council, said that the attack on the Peking Garden owner – who suffered serious wounds to his stomach and throat – was a catalyst for change.
He said: “That was when the elastic band snapped and people said ‘no, we can’t be going on like this’, and demanded action. And action is what we got, right across the area.”
He said that local people were getting more involved to help improve the prospects of the area.
“The figures for Stronger North show a reduction in crime. It shows if you take action we can make a difference. It’s having an impact.”
A year on from the incident, locals are reporting a drop in crime – a claim supported by the latest police figures.
Violent crime in north Edinburgh between April and September is down 18.5 per cent in comparison with the same period last year.
And break-ins, including those to homes, sheds and businesses, have dropped 18 per cent.
Overall vehicle crime, which has been a historic problem in the area, is down a third, and the amount of incidents involving cars being stolen has dropped from 199 to 131 (34 per cent).
Lower-level antisocial behaviour and disorder has also dropped by more than a tenth.
Mr Black said the area had other major issues to tackle, such as poverty. However, Stronger North had been a positive step.
He called for more to be done to support offenders when they are released from prison to ensure they do not fall into a “vicious cycle” of crime.
But he welcomed the latest figures and the impact of the campaign, adding: “In the north of Edinburgh, we’re in advance of many areas because of our rounded thinking.”
City police boss Chief Superintendent Mark Williams said: “A focus in north Edinburgh has made a big difference in terms of reducing crime.
“We’ll keep working hard to drive it down as best we can, and we need the support of the public.”
He said he hoped the introduction of named community police officers would help make local police more visible and approachable.
Community safety leader councillor Cammy Day said: “When local people told us it was getting better, that’s the measure of success. We have now got agencies identifying families that are having difficulties at an early stage, from primary school. Through Total Craigroyston [a youth project which works in Craigroyston High] we have a group working with families who may have been linked with criminal activities.”
Other projects include a community leadership academy, which aims to equip local residents with leadership skills.
In March, Gary Reid was sentenced to seven years in a young offenders institution and James Hogg was jailed for eight years three months after they pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of Mr Yu.
Mr and Mrs Yu were unavailable for comment.