Midlothian Council meeting hears parked police cars could be used to tackle anti-social behaviour

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Police chief says 'even she' changes behaviour when she sees patrol car

Parked police cars could be used to tackle anti-social behaviour at shopping centres and other high-problem areas, it has been suggested.

At a meeting of Midlothian Police and Fire Rescue Board, Councillor Willie McEwan asked officers to consider leaving patrol cars parked in places affected by crime instead of outside police stations.

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And following the question Chief Superintendent Catriona Paton admitted visibility was a key focus for police – and said she ‘alters her behaviour’ when she spots a police car when out and about.

Councillor McEwan said parking a police car in places such as Straiton Retail Park could make would-be criminals rethink their behaviour.

Chief Superintendent Paton told the meeting:  “I completely agree with the importance of visibility, it is one of our new chief constable’s main priorities to find ways to be more visible, engaging and proactive in our communities because it directly links to trust and confidence.

“Even for me, seeing a police vehicle alters behaviour when you are walking and you see it.”

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She welcomed the request from the councillor who told her: “I think if people jump off a bus or drive into Straiton retail park and see a police vehicle they may just think twice about what they are intending to do and move on.”

The board heard the Police Scotland report on crimes in Midlothian over the third quarter of the year which saw a fall in the supply of drugs by over 42 per cent from a five year average of 45 incidents to 26 and antisocial behaviour incidents falling by 18 per cent from a five year average of 4340 to 3552 in the quarter.

It heard that housebreaking had increased by 45 per cent from the average of 62 to 91, however Chief Inspector Jim Robertson said this was down to organised crime gangs targeting houses in the Lothians.

He said a taskforce had been established last year to tackle the issue saying: “During quarter three the work of the taskforce resulted in six significant arrests for more than 30 housebreakings and associated crimes.”