Edinburgh is a very different city to Glasgow, and traditionally that was reflected in the varying approaches of the forces in Lothian and Borders and Strathclyde.
When Police Scotland was created, we were absolutely assured this wouldn’t greatly impact on things on the ground. Local expertise would remain, the level of service the public would receive would be unaffected, and the move to a single force was merely a commonsense approach to save the taxpayer money.
Recent experiences in the Capital, and indeed across the rest of the country, have proved this to be a nonsense. Not only has Police Scotland shut down public service desks against the will of the majority, but it’s applied a number of west coast mantras to Edinburgh.
It may as well be called a Strathclyde Police takeover. Figures published last month confirmed what many of us suspected; there has been an alarming rise in housebreakings across the city. What more stark an indication could there be to people in Edinburgh that crime is on the rise?
Only a few weeks ago we had a case which is almost beyond belief where a burglar was cornered in Gorgie, only for the brave member of the public who intervened forced to wait 15 minutes for police support.
People are wondering what on earth is going on. When I do the rounds of community councils and we listen to the local officer giving their crime update for the area, the question invariably comes up – why was the specialist housebreaking team abolished in the first place?
And the suspicion is it was an intrusion of Strathclyde’s culture having influence on Lothians policing. I feel sorry for the officers on the street; none of this is their fault. This reduction in quality is a direct result of dictations from the top, and police men and women have no choice but to follow these misguided, one-size-fits-all orders.
It may be a sensitive issue, but the licensing for saunas also comes into this bracket. It’s extremely odd how the change in the police approach on this coincided with the formation of Police Scotland.
Instead of consulting with a range of organisations, politicians, experts and individuals, years of good work was undone by applying a principle worryingly similar to that of Strathclyde Police.
There were clear warnings about this centralised approach, but they have been ignored, and the problems are now coming home to roost in an extremely damaging fashion.
• Cameron Buchanan is a Scottish Conservative MSP for the Lothians