Mark Williams: Service is police priority

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I’m pleased to tell you there is a huge amount to share with you on since my last column. Firstly, you may have read in Monday’s edition of the Evening News that I have made fundamental changes to the way that we police in the city.

I have put 160 more community police officers back on the streets of the Capital.

They will be highly visible and work a shift pattern to better the meet the demands that we face. In addition, we will use an appointment system to manage some of the calls that you want us to attend. In essence, we will be available to see you at a time that suits your needs and in a place where you feel comfortable.

These changes cement our strong focus on local policing, placing it at the heart of all that we do and ensuring my officers and staff can provide the public in Edinburgh with the best possible service.

I know that housebreaking matters to the people of Edinburgh and I spoke recently about our renewed focus on this particularly personal crime. Since last September, my officers have been targeting those criminals who break into properties and steal from garden sheds and garages.

Just before Christmas, we increased our efforts further and I am delighted to say that, to date, we have arrested 103 individuals and charged them with 310 crimes.

There has been much debate about the appropriate use of stop-and-search powers in recent weeks, and this can be a very useful tool when it comes to catching housebreakers.

In Edinburgh, we work to the mantra that we will stop and search the right people, in the right places, at the right times to keep people safe and target criminals.

As a result, we have used our powers of stop-and-search extensively during our focus on thieves and it has led to us recovering property and drugs including heroin, cannabis, bicycles, amphetamine, motor vehicles, offensive weapons, expensive jewellery and ornaments. The total value of these goods is more than £250,000, and I can assure you that we will continue to focus on house-breaking into the year ahead.

As we approach April we will be finalising our policing priorities for the next year. More than 5000 members of the public in Edinburgh have responded to our consultation so far, and I am delighted to see so many people engaging with such an important issue. To date, violent crime, dangerous driving, antisocial behaviour and house-breaking all features prom-inently in feedback and these areas will, as a result, be a real focus for us in the coming year.