Cameron Rose: Police struggled to gain confidence of residents

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The change to a national police service was always going to need strong leadership. But strong leadership doesn’t guarantee better policing.

Judging from the results there is a long way to go before we can say the changes have been positive overall.

Take the experience of break-ins: for Edinburgh the last year has not been good.

It began with a Police Scotland change of emphasis from “acquisitive” crime to crimes of violence.

Specialist housebreaking teams were downgraded and, when the inevitable increase in that form of crime broke out, the real failing was not escalating the police response decisively – leaving householders vulnerable and thieves rampant.

That it took until February this year to put together specialist teams again, over six months after the epidemic of crime in some areas became apparent, suggests the strong leadership of Sir Stephen House and what were seen as “his” priorities, prevented a sensible, local response.

Meanwhile, homeowners and families have experienced fear and frustration, feeling unsupported by a police who have seemed 
impotent.

Have other areas of policing seen improvement since the creation of Police Scotland 12 months ago?

Perhaps – but they are hard to find. Contacting the police is no easier. Public counters are closing and the call centre at Bilston has inherent inefficiencies which have not been addressed.

Why, for example, does it take at least 30-40 seconds to connect to a real live operator every time I dial 101? Contacting a particular police officer remains a tedious process despite new and expensive technology.

Good leadership solves these system problems.

One year on, the undoubtedly strong leadership style of Sir Stephen House does not seem to have left Edinburgh better policed.

* Cameron Rose is the leader of the Conservative group on Edinburgh City Council and a former police inspector