Comment: Police need review - and fast

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The latest report into the policing of Edinburgh by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland makes for alarming reading.

The fact that the crime rate in the Capital is the highest in Scotland per head of population, while the detection rate is one of the lowest, is disturbing. There is no getting away from that.

The Scottish Government has made great capital out of the fact that it has put record numbers of police on the streets, but it is clear that Edinburgh at least is not seeing the benefit of that.

One of the reasons put forward for setting up Police Scotland was that communities across the country should get the same standard of law enforcement wherever they live. That is clearly not happening – and the people of Edinburgh deserve better.

There is of course a more complex picture behind these trends, as there always are with bare statistics, which explains some of the reasons for the more startling findings.

Edinburgh has not become a dangerous city overnight. The unique pressures which the city faces, including the population doubling during the summer festivals and the huge number of visitors coming in to the city each day throughout the year to shop, work and see the sights, means that it will inevitably attract more than an average amount of 
crime.

But they do not explain the extent of the problems facing policing in Edinburgh.

One thing that is clear from the HMICS report is that the Capital is being short-changed.

Our police have to deal with more than 1000 events each year, many associated with our position as Scotland’s capital, ranging from demos outside the Scottish Parliament and marches down the Royal Mile, to major charity events and festivals.

Despite this, more than 55 officers are pulled from frontline duty each day, leaving the city police struggling to cope.

There has been much talk about the “Strathclyde-ification” of the country’s police, the idea that the national force has been bent to serve the best interests of Glasgow. This report adds a great deal of evidence to support that 
view.

We must be grateful to the city’s officers, who the report notes have one of the lowest sickness rates in the country, as without their dedication we would be much worse off.

But as the HMICS has concluded there needs to be a review of the resources directed to the Capital – and fast.