THE High Court in Edinburgh has always been the place were justice is meted out to the guilty.
Now police officers who take advantage of their status to park unmarked vehicles around the Lawnmarket building face being ticketed by wardens following complaints from nearby residents.
Police chiefs have agreed a policy with the city council that even vehicles displaying official “police” signs on the dashboard will be given a parking ticket.
Senior officers will later check any tickets received by the force to ensure officers parked under “exceptional circumstances”, such as a responding to an incident, and not out of “convenience”.
Officers found liable for rogue parking will have to shell out for the fine, while justified cases will see the tickets appealed and thrown out.
The system was hailed by motoring groups as a rare example of “common sense” in parking arrangements set out in the Capital.
The issue was recently highlighted when the unmarked police car that brought murdered bookkeeper Suzanne Pilley’s parents to court was given a parking ticket while they watched their daughter’s killer being sentenced. Parking wardens swooped on the silver Vauxhall Insignia, which had been driven by a police family liaison officer, as David Gilroy was being given a life sentence inside the High Court.
The ticket issued on St Giles’ Street was later withdrawn after the explanation was provided to the city council.
Neil Greig, director of policy at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: “This is probably the first positive arrangement in terms of parking in Edinburgh for some time. It seems to be a fair and transparent system. There have been many negatives around parking arrangements in the city so it’s good to see some common sense being applied.”
On Tuesday, two hungry police officers were caught on camera parking a patrol van in a “no loading” bay and popping into a butchers to buy some sausages. Onlookers in Broughton Street fumed as the officers parked up opposite Crombie’s of Edinburgh to pick up the food.
Tory councillor Iain Whyte, convener of the police board, said: “This seems like a pragmatic arrangement which allows officers to get to urgent incidents, but at the same time ensures that residents’ spaces are not being taken up when they don’t need to be.”
Officers frequently attend court to give evidence, and are often left to wait around for hours for their turn in the witness box.
Residents complained to the council about the unmarked cars being parked in the Lawnmarket after some were unconvinced their presence was always vital.
City transport leader Councillor Gordon Mackenzie, said: “Where appropriate, our parking attendants have been advised by Lothian and Borders Police to ticket police vehicles parked in residents’ parking bays, pay and display bays and taxi stances around the High Court. This is to allow local residents and others to park in this area. This arrangement has the full support and co-operation of Lothian and Borders Police and local residents.”