City council bosses today said they would drop plans to cut funding for the police after reaching a deal to restore road safety education.
Police Scotland sparked a storm of protest when it revealed plans to pull out of road safety sessions in schools as part of its cost-cutting drive.
But now council leaders say they have negotiated an agreement with local police chiefs which includes a promise to continue road safety training and also gives the authority a say in where community police officers are deployed.
In return, the council will continue its current level of funding and ditch plans included in its draft budget for a reduction in the annual amount paid to the police to finance extra community officers in the Capital.
The council’s community safety convener Councillor Cammy Day, below, said: “The police were about to withdraw from road safety work, but we have managed to come to an agreement – we will continue to fund Police Scotland so long as they continue to provide road safety education.”
The council had planned to cut £500,000 from its £2.7 million policing contribution amid concerns officers intended to be based in communities were being used on other duties.
Council officials pointed out Edinburgh gave significantly more cash to the police than anywhere else in Scotland.
However, Councillor Day said the agreement between the council and the police now specified that officers would be targeted at areas where crime was highest.
He said: “This is the first time we have entered into a formal agreement about exactly what this money is used for. We give them £2.7m a year and we want to be able to say what should happen to it.
“In the past, the money has been given and just swallowed up in the overall budget and used as they have seen fit.
“We want to say ‘This is what Edinburgh needs and this is what we want to deliver’.
“We need community policing where we have the highest crime and targeted intervention where there are particular problems.”
In a report to council leaders at the end of last year, Edinburgh police commander Chief Superintendent Mark Williams said the authority’s funding paid for around 44 community constables – almost 22 per cent of community policing in the Capital – and 12 city centre officers, 20 per cent of that team.
Police Scotland – which is being asked to save a total of £1.1 billion by 2026 – never provided a figure for how much it expected to save by the withdrawal from road safety work.
However, it is understood that despite the agreement between the council and the police, four jobs – a road safety co-ordinator and three road safety officers – have already gone and will not be reinstated.
Police Scotland said it could not go into detail on the agreement until the council budget was finally set.
A spokeswoman said: “Road safety continues to be a priority for Police Scotland and Edinburgh division is currently in discussion with the city council about the provision of road safety education in future.”