Comment: Reputation as a safe city can be easily lost

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EDINBURGH has a hard-earned reputation as a safe place to live.

Crime and violent crime in particular remain low in the city despite a recent surge of high-profile armed robberies – but it doesn’t always feel like that.

The robbery of a tourist at knifepoint in a quiet part of the New Town and the brutal attack in the Old Town by a group of men bizarrely dressed in tweed are just the latest in a series of violent crimes that have unnerved many people. It is only a week since the armed raids on Laing the jewellers in Frederick Street and bookmaker Ladbrokes, whose Portobello 
branch was held up by a gang wearing CSI-style boilersuits.

Of course, we have not suddenly found ourselves living in a lawless city. We must not blow these recent events out of proportion. Yet many people are worried about these recent crimes and the impact that they could have on life in the Capital.

It is reassuring that the police have made arrests in the wake of the jewellery shop raids, but shopworkers in particular will feel vulnerable when dangerous criminals like these are operating in the city.

What the public will demand from the police at a time like this is a twofold reaction. People want to see officers on the beat in the areas that have been affected. Everyone understands that modern day crime-fighting can often be more effective when conducted in a laboratory or from the force helicopter, but we should never underestimate the difference which a visible police presence can make. It deters criminals and reassures the public.

Police chiefs will also no doubt be studying this latest spree of armed robberies and considering whether it needs a specialist team to target the perpetrators.

Our reputation as a safe city was hard won, but it can easily be lost. Police Scotland needs to turn the wealth of resources at its disposal at tracking down these criminals before other hoodlums start to think there are easy pickings in the Capital.