Bobbies back on the beat after £2.6m cash boost

Chief Superintendent Mark Williams, second left, with,from left, Stephen Sutherland, Bruce Burt, Sarah Hall and Kevin Weaver. Picture: Jon Savage
Chief Superintendent Mark Williams, second left, with,from left, Stephen Sutherland, Bruce Burt, Sarah Hall and Kevin Weaver. Picture: Jon Savage
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Dedicated bobbies have been put back on the beat following a £2.6 million cash boost from the council.

Each ward across the Capital now has two named officers who will act as the “key contact” for residents.

It is hoped that the introduction of the 41 officers – including seven for the city centre area – will stem concerns that traditional community policing is a thing of the past.

Among the officers’ duties are attending local community council meetings, school visits and liaising with businesses.

They are also expected to walk the streets and provide reassurance patrols to become a well-known and approachable face, while assisting with live incidents where required.

To spread the word, their pictures and contact details will be put on posters and shared on social media.

Chief Superintendent Mark Williams described the new posts, which officially started last month, as “specialist” and said that the new set-up would help to make local policing more consistent.

He said: “It’s at the heart of what I want to see in policing in the city. It’s an important step forward and I hope that it goes some way to answer some of the challenges and some of the criticisms that have been levelled with us.”

Community safety leader Councillor Cammy Day said: “It’s what people have asked for. They need to know who they can talk to and who is their local contact, so having the named officers will really help.”

The £2.6m cash for 2015-16 has also funded 14 officers for the Divisional Violence Reduction Unit (DVRU), headed up by Inspector Stevie Sutherland.

The team is the only flexible uniformed unit in the city, and it can be deployed to focus on areas where there have been issues with violence, such as pubs, bookmakers or city centre trouble spots.

Last week, the team was in plain clothes for an operation to tackle drug-related violence in the Southside, while it has also been assisting the Operation RAC housebreaking initiative.

Insp Sutherland’s squad also carry out bail curfew checks and arrest criminals on court warrants.

He said: “We work alongside the CID departments. They may have the main inquiry but we can go and get the suspects for interview. Every month we compile a report on the activity and present it to the council.”

Among the new beat officers are Pc Sarah Hall, for the Forth ward, Pc Kevin Weaver of Leith, and Pc Bruce Burt for Central.

“It’s more of a problem-solving role,” said Pc Burt. “People see some issues as low-level but they have a huge effect on their day to day life. I’ve done community policing for about ten years – it’s vitally important.”

Drylaw police station-based Pc Hall said: “I was previously community officer for Granton and Wardieburn, so people there started to get to know you and they’d be keener to come and speak to you. When you’ve worked in an area for a while, you feel responsible for it and want to do right by it.”

Pc Weaver, who has already been running police surgeries at McDonald Road Library, said: “I love Leith, it’s a great place. I do drop-in groups as well to give advice and I visit sheltered housing. I enjoy it because you can make a difference.”