Leader: Effective targeting has played a part

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WE have grown used to stories about the general crime rate falling in recent years.

But there are two things that make what happened in ­Edinburgh last year particularly interesting.

Firstly, the fall was so dramatic – nearly 10 per cent compared with a national average of a third of that. Secondly, it has come at a time when the falls in crime that had been pretty universal across the UK are starting to stutter or even reverse in some cities, such as Aberdeen and Dundee.

Sociologists have been arguing for years over what has caused the downward trend we have been enjoying – and will no doubt find further food for thought in these latest statistics.

There are some things though that we can be fairly sure have played a significant part in the success that we have seen in Edinburgh over the course of last year.

Number one among these has been the effective targeting of local priorities, such as housebreaking and robberies in shops and on our streets. This focus was sadly lost in the early days of Police Scotland but appears in safe hands once again under city commander Chief Superintendent Kenny Macdonald.

The dedicated team targeting housebreaking in the Capital has been the bedrock of the recent success, but the police could not have achieved these dramatic results on their own. There can be few things more frustrating for crime victims and the police than seeing persistent housebreakers caught then walking free from court.

Thankfully, a string of hardcore offenders were jailed and, as a direct result, 1000 less burglaries were committed in Edinburgh last year. It’s not rocket science, but the courts need to play their part and that hasn’t always been the case in the past.

Thirdly, householders and business owners have played their part too, by listening to police advice and taking extra steps to make their property more secure. The result of these combined efforts is that we can all sleep a little safer in our beds.

One blot on the landscape is the continuing problems in the city centre, where alcohol and violence still all too often go hand in hand. That is of course a problem far from unique to the Capital.

A dedicated police team is working to tackle that. It won’t be easy, but we have seen what can be achieved by the combined force of the police, other local authorities, businesses and residents.