Comment: Police more focused after national merger

The number of police patrols has been increased. Picture: Ian Georgeson
The number of police patrols has been increased. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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With crime falling, people in Edinburgh are reaping the benefits of the new national police force.

THE amalgamation of eight legacy forces into one national police service on April 1 this year represented the biggest shift in policing for a generation. Naturally, this change has generated much discussion and speculation about the benefits that such a change brings. Let me reassure you that, in Edinburgh Division, we are more focused than ever before on keeping people safe. Between April and June this year there were huge falls across many significant crime areas. Furthermore, there were 69 fewer victims of serious violent crime in the Capital and I am committed to continuing this downward trend.

Our focus on reducing violent crime has also seen a 30 per cent reduction in serious assaults and we have detected 25 per cent more than we did the previous year. In addition, by searching the right people, in the right places, at the right time, we have taken more knives and offensive weapons off the streets than ever before, almost halving the number of robberies committed in the city.

Our Campaign Against Violence days have seen increased patrols across Edinburgh, enhancing police visibility and contributing to almost 1000 fewer reported incidents of antisocial behaviour as well as 800 fewer complaints of public disorder.

Police Scotland is committed to targeting the crimes that local communities have identified as being important to them. As a result, we have reduced break-ins to homes by 15 per cent compared with last year and taken more drugs off the streets than last year.

We have made significant inroads into a number of organised crime gangs who peddle misery in our communities and seized over £2 million of their ill-gotten gains through the effective use of our powers under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

It is essential that members of the public are confident about reporting crime and often there is none more sensitive than domestic abuse and sexual crime. Since the formation of Police Scotland we have put more officers into our specialist public protection unit in Edinburgh and, as a result, we have reduced the number of domestic abuse incidents being reported.

We are targeting offenders to protect the most vulnerable members of the community and as a result our detection rates for these crimes are up by 17 per cent since April 1.

Road safety continues to be a priority for local officers and I am committed to reducing the numbers of serious and fatal road traffic collisions. Our tougher approach since April 1 has seen a 29 per cent reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured on the Capital’s roads so far this year. Whilst this is encouraging, we will not be complacent and will continue our enforcement action to make our roads safer.

Scotland’s communities rightfully demand and deserve a service that has a clear vision on how to tackle crime and make communities safer. Police Scotland is not immune to the financial pressures faced by all public sectors. However, despite those challenges this is a service that targets its resources to the areas that the public have identified as important to them. That’s why we’ve charged more people for speeding, reduced disorder, targeted drug dealers and put extra resources into our public protection units to keep the most vulnerable in our society safe.

• Chief Superintendent Mark Williams is Divisional Commander for the City of Edinburgh