Edinburgh man '˜lost faith' in police after six-and-half-hour 999 wait

STEVE Anderson says he has lost all faith in the police after waiting six and a half hours for officers to respond to a 999 call when he suffered his fourth break-in in two and a half years.

Tuesday, 16th October 2018, 5:44 pm
Updated Tuesday, 16th October 2018, 6:02 pm

“The guys I called to fix the windows turned up faster than the police,” he said.

A recent surge of break-ins in the Colinton/Fairmilehead area has prompted the police to designate two officers to focus on such crimes.

But concerns persist that the distribution of police numbers across Scotland has left the Capital with too few officers.

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Mr Anderson arrived back at his home in Woodhall Road, Colinton, one afternoon in August to find thieves had smashed their way into the house through the kitchen doors. “I dialled 999, but it took the police six and a half hours to turn up. The glaziers got here quicker.”

Two years ago, he says, he had a much scarier experience.

“Four guys turned up in a car outside my house at 3.45am and tried to smash their way in, both back and front.

“I put all the lights on and phoned 999 for the police. They turned up an hour and a half later and said ‘Did you call?’

“I told them it had been an emergency, but they said ‘Oh, we were just asked to attend.’”

Mr Anderson, 58, said he did not blame individual officers.

“The underlying problem, according to the police I have spoken to, is there are just not enough of them.

“Two of the guys I chatted to want to leave the police because they say they can’t do their job.

“It’s not their fault, but the whole Police Scotland thing doesn’t seem to be working.

“They just don’t have the resources to do much about anything – and they can’t respond quickly. Not once when I’ve dialled 999 have the police turned up before the glaziers.”

His four break-ins have 
happened despite having a burglar alarm installed at his house. And he said a neighbour had been broken into twice in six months even though he has CCTV cameras.

“They know the police can’t respond quickly,” said Mr Anderson. “According to what the police told me, they will break into a house, the alarm goes off, so they rip it off the wall and submerge it in water and that stops it. They work on the basis they have a time window when they can work your house and then they do a runner.”

Concern about police numbers in Edinburgh is shared across the political spectrum.

Scott Arthur, Labour councillor for Colinton/Fairmilehead, said: “The police in Edinburgh do a fantastic job for us 365 days a year, but we need more of them. We are continually told that officers are allocated to Edinburgh based on need, but with the fourth highest crime rate in Scotland there is definitely a shortfall.”

Edinburgh divisional commander Chief Superintendent
Gareth Blair said tackling crimes like housebreaking remained one of the top priorities for policing in the Capital.

He said: “We have seen great success in reducing crimes of this nature.

“Our year-to-date figures show a 23 per cent fall in housebreaking and we have seen a decrease of over 30 per cent in comparison to the five-year average. We will continue to work hard to cut these offences further.”

Responding to claims of slow response times on 999 calls, he said: “Whenever any crime is reported it is graded accordingly, based on a number of factors, including whether there is a threat to a person’s life and whether the incident is ongoing. Our response time to these incidents reflects the grading.

“On a daily basis myself and the rest of the Edinburgh command team review the crime reports for the city and discuss resourcing matters to ensure we are able to dedicate our resources effectively.

“I am satisfied that the current provision of officers, including those funded by our partners at the city council, allows us to police the demands of the Capital appropriately.”