The owner of one of the Capital’s leading pizza restaurants has called on the police to do more to reduce and tackle anti-social behaviour on Hunter Square.
Michele Civiera, who runs the Italian restaurant group Civerinos, has struggled to deal with drug-taking and drunkeness on the square for all of five years he has run his restaurant there.
Incidents have included finding people suffering from drug overdosing in Stevenlaw’s Close, to staff being accosted in bin stores and even bathrooms being broken into while staff worked upstairs.
For Mr Civiera, an alleged assault near the square in July was yet another indication that the police and the city council are not looking after businesses in the area.
He said: “We have been here for five years, it’s been an issue from as soon as we turned up.
“There are issues on the square. They are here from 7am/8am in the morning.
“Two or three years ago it got really bad and I got onto the police and the press and the councillors. There was a dispersal order put in place and that ran out and they have been here ever since.
“I should be selling risottos and pizzas, instead I am acting as an unofficial guardian of Hunter Square.”
Mr Civiera added: “We are all trying to shed that Trainspotting image and promote the city as a progressive, cultured, cool Edinburgh and you just have to come here and it hasn’t changed.
“Every city has its problems, but it just seems to be getting worse and worse.”
Hunter Square, off South Bridge, is well known as being a hotspot for anti-social behaviour with litter frequently dumped and, according to Mr Civiera, needles and foil left behind by drug takers.
During the Festival season, the number of police officers patrolling the streets does increase, with more regular patrols and a dedicated mobile police station called the ‘Unofficial Fringe Venue 999’, one of which will be based close to Hunter Square.
However, for Mr Civiera, more must be done throughout the year to avoid the problem getting worse.
He said: “It is a bigger problem than it was and nobody wants that on their doorstep. It is good for a year and now it is really bad again,
“A community police presence is a great deterrent and while you have a police van there it will be great. We’ve been told the more 101 calls we rack up the more action we will get.”
A Police Scotland spokesman said: “Police in Edinburgh continue to work with partners in order to deter and reduce anti-social behaviour in the city centre, with particular attention to areas such as Hunter Square in response to concerns from the local community.
“We have community policing officers who patrol the city centre over the course of the year, with a dedicated policing team for the Capital over the duration of the Edinburgh International Festival.”