Police ‘winning the war on neds’

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A POLICE drive to tackle antisocial behaviour has seen calls about youths causing trouble on the streets drop by 3000.

A major drive aimed at tackling the city’s worst trouble hotspots, which saw special teams focus on local community priorities, is being credited with the fall. As well as a 23 per cent cut in youth calls from 12,983 to 9984, complaints over antisocial behaviour fell by 6.7 per cent from 3961 to 3695, while vandalism decreased by nearly three per cent.

Chief Superintendent Gill Imery, Edinburgh’s divisional commander, said she was “delighted” with the results, but insisted the force would not be complacent.

Paul Edie, the city council’s community safety leader, also hailed the results. He said: “We’ve seen a significant reduction in the ‘quality of life’ kind of calls for antisocial behaviour. They are not the most serious crimes, but can be very difficult to live next to.

“The police, working with the council’s community safety teams, have been able to pull out all the stops and nip problems in the bud before they develop.”

Safer Neighbourhood Teams, launched last September, were created in each of the city’s 17 council wards to tackle hotspots of antisocial behaviour.

The scheme, which brought together beat officers and neighbourhood action units to work alongside city council community safety teams, saw the number of local officers on the beat boosted from 142 to 212.

Among the successes was Operation Dragnet, which targeted problems at Walter Scott Avenue in the Inch, a street that saw the hit-and-run death of Paul Bonnar in June 2009. Teenage car thief Lee Coyle was later jailed for eight-and-a-half years for culpable homicide.

Under the Safer Neighbourhood Teams set-up, local priority-setting meetings identify the concerns of residents and agree what needs to be done.

Chief Supt Imery said: “As well as the drop in reported crime, I am delighted that there has been such a significant drop in calls. There has also been a drop in the volume of youth calls, vandalism and fireraisings reported. These figures are incredibly encouraging and we are committed to continuing to reduce these. We will not be complacent.”

Chris Hampton, secretary of the Liberton and District Community Council, said: “If this has worked to cut antisocial behaviour then that can only be a good thing. However, we need more engagement with the local community here.”