Police thinking inside the box in bid to boost links with community

Sergeant David Robertson and PC Jacqueline Whale at the Craigentinny Road box
Sergeant David Robertson and PC Jacqueline Whale at the Craigentinny Road box
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Have your say

THEY are iconic symbols of traditional policing where members of the public could often find their local bobby.

Now three police boxes in the east of Edinburgh are set to be reopened for the first time in years in a bid to boost the force’s links with the community.

The boxes in Duddingston Road West, Jock’s Lodge and Craigentinny Road will be refurbished and used to host surgeries where residents can meet with officers to discuss problems with crime and other issues.

Last month, it was revealed that 22 of the Tardis-style blue boxes will be offered to the highest bidders although buyers will have to paint them a different colour.

Sergeant David Robertson, from the local Safer Neighbourhood Team, came up with the idea for the unique meeting points after learning of the sell-off.

The boxes will be used next week as part of the regular “Have Your Say” events where police speak to residents about prominent issues, but will remain open permanently afterwards for future surgeries.

Sgt Robertson said: “When I became aware some of the police boxes in the city were being sold, I did some checks and confirmed that three boxes in our area were not among them. I thought it was a really good opportunity to put them to good use and engage with the local community in a meaningful way.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to community policing. We’re very lucky in the locations the boxes are in as well. The one in Craigentinny Road is in a mostly residential area while the box in Jock’s Lodge is next to shops and public houses and gets a lot of footfall.

“The police boxes are iconic structures which are associated with the traditional values of community policing. That’s what this initiative is all about.”

Officers will be in attendance at the police box on Duddingston Road West on Tuesday between 8.30am and 9.30am, and next Friday between 8am and 10am.

The Jock’s Lodge box will be open on Wednesday between 8am and 10am, and noon to 2pm; next Friday between 6pm and 8pm; and again the following day from 3pm to 5pm and 6pm to 8pm.

On Craigentinny Road, officers will be at the box on Thursday between 8am and 10am, and 6pm and 8pm.

Sgt Robertson added: “We’re looking to get some investment to have the boxes refurbished.”

And he said the surgeries would continue, with times and dates advertised on posters and through Twitter.

Some police boxes in the city are still operational, being used by community officers and traffic wardens out on patrols. They include boxes on Canongate, Grassmarket, Marchmont Crescent and The Mound.

At their peak there were 86 scattered around the streets of Edinburgh. In 1995, 33 were sold off and many are now run by the Police Box Coffee Company.

Councillor Stefan Tymkewycz, who represents the Craigentinny/Duddingston ward and is a former police officer, said: “Anything that gives people the opportunity to get closer to police and engage with them has to be welcomed.”