City focuses on CCTV plans for Meadows

Middle Meadow Walk now has brighter lights
Middle Meadow Walk now has brighter lights
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A NETWORK of CCTV cameras stretching across the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links is being considered for the first time following a spate of attacks.

Council chiefs are examining the costs of putting up permanent cameras through the public parks to crackdown on violence and antisocial behaviour.

More than 200 brighter lightbulbs have already been fitted while mobile CCTV cameras have been in use to bolster public confidence.

Increased patrols by police and the council’s environmental warden night time team have been put in place to create a “sustained presence” following a series of late-night attacks.

Police are continuing to investigate the rape of a 19-year-old woman and a sex attack on a jogger in two of the most serious attacks.

Edinburgh University Students’ Association (EUSA) has already formed a “walking bus” service so those who live in the area do not have to walk home alone.

The local authority said there would be substantial costs in installing permanent CCTV cameras and it is exploring where the funding would come from.

Labour councillor Paul Godzik, whose motion to the council led to the new measures, said: “There was a great deal of concern following the attacks, and there has also been a string of incidents of antisocial behaviour in the area, so having improved lighting and more patrols will make those who use the area feel safer.

“There have been calls for [permanent] CCTV in the past and it’s right the council keeps it under review.

“There will be problems because it’s a big park with a lot of trees but we need to keep looking at it.”

EUSA president Matt McPherson said: “Students and our wider community should be pleased that Councillor Godzik and Edinburgh City Council have taken such a serious stance on safety in the Meadows.

“The attacks have worried our student body, especially those who walk home from the library late at night.

“In regards to permanent CCTV, students are subject to CCTV around the university all day, but not when they need it most, which is when they’re walking at night across the Meadows.

“It is my hope that CCTV and a greater police presence will not only help in responding to crime, but will deter criminals in the first place.”

Sarah Sandrow, chair of Marchmont and Sciennes Community Council, added: “We’ll be considering the proposals in the weeks to come, but we’re very impressed with the way the students have made efforts to make sure the Meadows is safer for everyone.”