COMMUNITY leaders in North Edinburgh have backed calls for new initiatives to tackle motorbike crime, but said parents had to accept responsibility for their children.
The problem of youngsters joyriding on stolen motorcycles has plagued the area for years and led to a ten-year-old boy being seriously injured when he was hit by a motorbike at a pedestrian crossing near Drylaw police station on Saturday evening.
The boy is said to be doing well in hospital, but faces a long recovery.
The issue is due to be debated at a full council meeting today, with a call for early intervention at school to help children understand the dangers and community-based activities to combat antisocial behaviour.
Robert Pearson, of Tenants and Residents in Muirhouse, agreed early intervention could play an important part.
But he said: “One of the biggest things required is parents, guardians and carers taking responsibility for their children.
“They need to know where their children are of an evening and what they’re up to, and not be afraid to ask the authorities for help if their behaviour becomes unmanageable.”
He said a long-term strategy was needed. “The council needs to work alongside the police and other partners – and they need to focus on North Edinburgh rather than the city centre where the Festival is. Is the priority keeping the city looking nice or is the priority keeping our communities safe?
“The council, police, courts, youth panel and everyone else need to be singing from the same hymn sheet.”
Kevin Lang, Liberal Democrat councillor for Almond ward, said: “This is an issue which has been ongoing for North Edinburgh for a number of years and it has been brought back into sharp focus with the terrible incident at the weekend.
“All of us have to work together to find a long-term solution that tackles the problem.”
His motion, tabled before the latest accident, welcomes the police activity in June as part of the Stronger North initiative which resulted in 71 arrests, 15 stolen motorcycles and five stolen cars recovered and 28 vehicles seized.
Cllr Lang said: “A lot of good work has been done, but clearly it is not enough. We need to explore innovative ways of working with the community.
“Those responsible for this are a very small number of individuals who are not reflective of the wider community.
“And there is a real desire within the community to try and sort this issue.
“Effective policing is certainly part of that, but the advice we get from the police is we also need to intervene at an early stage, in schools in particular, so children understand the risks and dangers associated with motorbike crime. We need to look at what more the council can do at an educational level to tackle the underlying problems.”
Cllr Lang said he wanted council officials to work with the police to bring forward a package of measures.