Leader: ‘Any change in emphasis will have downside’

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The priorities of the police have changed since a single Scottish force was created two months ago.

The new structure was bound to mean some changes in practice for Lothian and Borders’ 4000 officers and support staff.

One thing that the Chief Constable Stephen House has made done admirably is make very clear where he wants his officers efforts to be concentrated first and foremost.

Tackling domestic violence, improving the investigation of rapes and targeting organised crime are among the areas that he has highlighted for action. He has also talked with great sense about the link between heavy drinking and violence and the cost to our society of failing to deal adequately with that.

These are all problems which concern the general public and any progress in dealing with them will be warmly welcomed.

Of course, any change in emphasis will inevitably have a downside as well as an upside. You cannot do more of some things without doing less of others.

What could not be clear until these changes were in place was the impact they would have on local life. Today, the early indications are that one negative effect may be a severe drop in the number of housebreakers being brought to justice.

Police in the Capital have made great strides in recent years in tackling what is undoubtedly a major social menace. It would be very worrying if that legacy cannot be built upon under the new regime.

The impact of a break-in may not be as dramatic as, for instance, a physical assault, but it should never be underestimated. The psychological damage to victims can be severe and long-lasting.

The strong leadership which Mr House has provided to his officers has to be welcomed. The question which many Lothian residents will be asking, however, is whether his prioritise are the right ones for us?