The public toilets in Edinburgh’s Hunter Square are to close today in the latest move to tackle anti-social behaviour.
The joint agreement between the City of Edinburgh Council and Police Scotland to close the toilets comes as part of a set of actions being taken forward to tackle anti-social behaviour in the area.
The Council and Police Scotland have seen an increase in the number of complaints from residents, businesses and visitors who are concerned about street drinkers gathering in large numbers which has resulted in anti-social behaviour and criminality.
The closure follows advice from Police Scotland which showed that the public toilets increased the anti-social problems and provided an area for drug dealing and other criminal activity to take place.
Other actions being taken forward by the Council and Police Scotland include:
Close monitoring by CCTV to identify any early intervention actions which can be taken
Daily police patrols
Regular joint patrols by Police Scotland and Council officers
Regular clean ups of the area by the street cleansing service
Engagement with local businesses to provide information, advice and updates on action being taken
Engagement with the street drinkers by voluntary sector partners to identify any support needs that can be addressed
A review of the design of the area to make it more inviting and appealing
Councillor Joan Griffiths, Community Safety leader at the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “Together with our partners at Police Scotland we will continue to look at both short term actions and longer term solutions to make Hunter Square a place where people feel safe and welcome.
“Reducing anti-social behaviour is a key priority for the city and this plan of action sends a clear message that any threatening or criminal behaviour will not be tolerated.
“We are of course mindful of the importance of public conveniences to local residents and visitors to the city. Signage will be put up with directions to the nearest facilities at Castlehill.
“Hunter Square is a prime public space in the centre of our beautiful city and we want to make sure it’s accessible and inviting to all.”
Local Area Commander, Chief Inspector Mark Rennie, said: “Various policing approaches have been adopted for Hunter Square and the surrounding area but, despite that, problems have persisted.
“We’ve arrested over 50 people in the Hunter Square area in the last six months alone for such offences, but it is important that we seek a long term solution to the problems experienced by residents and businesses.
“The drinking of alcohol and criminal use of the sub street toilets are a key contributory factor to the problems experienced and the measures we are taking with the City of Edinburgh Council to control these two problems will have a significant impact going forward.
“Our local community officers patrol the area during the day and night however, despite their intervention, the area still accounts for a disproportionate amount of anti-social behaviour in the City Centre.
“We will continue to work with the Council, other partners and local people to tackle these issues and return the Square to an area which all the community can use and enjoy.”
The Council and the Police will continue to monitor the area and the impact that the closure has.