City-centre crime down 25 per cent

City centre crime is down 25%
City centre crime is down 25%
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CRIME in Princes Street and George Street has fallen by almost a quarter in the space of three years to an average of just four offences day, it can be revealed today.

New statistics released to the Evening News show a major drive against shoplifting and alcohol-fuelled disorder in particular has helped make the city-centre streets among the safest in the city. The statistics show the number of crimes recorded by police fell 14 per cent in 2011 against the previous year, with 1471 offences compared with 1716.

It was also a 23 per cent drop on the 2008 high.

A crackdown on serial thieves which has led to a 43 per cent drop in shoplifting on Princes Street since 2008 is one of the major factors behind the falling crime levels, with retailers now sharing information on thieves through the Checkout scheme.

Andy Neal, chief executive at Essential Edinburgh, the company set up to manage the main city-centre blocks between Princes Street and Queen Street, said: “This reinforces that Edinburgh city centre is a wonderful and safe place in which to shop or enjoy an evening out.

“We all continue to work together in the fight to keep these crime levels as low as possible.”

The Checkout scheme has seen the business improvement district (BID) in the city centre solve 83 per cent of crimes – higher than any other UK city.

Josh Miller, chairman of the George Street Association and joint managing director of Charlie Miller hairdressing, said: “The figures really speak for themselves. Crime is down and policies are working. The Checkout scheme has made Edinburgh a much more difficult place for criminals to operate.”

Breach of the peace offences fell from 193 to 116 during the last year, while minor assaults decreased from 206 to 183 and thefts from 61 to 44. Seven people were arrested for being drunk and incapable in George Street, and 65 people were charged with urinating in public.

Community safety leader Councillor Paul Edie, said: “These are fantastic figures and are part of a continuing decrease in crime across the city.”

The figures, released under freedom of information laws, also reveal police arrested an individual for bigamy in Princes Street in 2007, while one person was arrested for shining a laser at an aircraft in 2010.

Chief Inspector Gavin Phillip, who has policing responsibility for Edinburgh city centre, said the police would continue to work alongside partners such as Essential Edinburgh and the council to cut city centre crime.

“Through various campaigns and initiatives, areas such as Princes Street and George Street have observed a fall in the number of crimes reported,” he said.

“A visible presence is provided by officers on foot and on cycle patrol in these streets to engage with local residents and businesses to prevent crime and address any issues or concerns that are raised with them.”

He also said the work of the highly visible Retail Crime Unit on princes Street would have helped to cut the crime figures.

Taking the initiative

POLICE have spearheaded a number of measures aimed at driving down crime in the city centre.

More than 150 retailers have signed up to Checkout, which was launched by police and Essential Edinburgh in 2010. The project shares real-time information on shoplifters.

Lists of criminals are handed out to the force’s retail crime unit, with photos and descriptions of the most-wanted shoplifters, fraudsters and pickpockets.

Identifying such repeat offenders allowed the force to apply for bail exclusion zones when the thieves appeared in court.

Bars and nightclubs in George Street had security clips installed underneath their tables to safely hang up bags and coats.

Crackdowns on drink-related crimes are carried out over Christmas and during the Festival, while officers work with bars and clubs in the Unite scheme to target troublemakers.