Residents living in fear as close hit by drugs use and violent attacks

TERRIFIED residents have told how junkies have turned the street which gave a Rebus novel its name into a real-life crime-ridden hell.

Tuesday, 19th December 2017, 6:00 am
Fleshmarket Close in Edinburgh's Old Town
Fleshmarket Close in Edinburgh's Old Town

A single tenement in Fleshmarket Close has seen a stabbing, drug busts and rape investigation nearby – while heroin addicts regularly shoot-up on the stairs.

Bestselling novelist Ian Rankin’s 15th book in the Inspector Rebus series was named after the Old Town alleyway, featuring rape, murder and gangsters.

“People are terrified,” said one woman, too scared to be named. “They’re injecting heroin on the stairs and fighting.

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“Last time, there was blood all over the stairs and this is not little incidents – it’s happening all the time.”

A 24-year-old man has appeared in court charged with the rape of a 44-year-old woman in the close earlier this month.

Police raided a flat in the tenement in August and September, seizing £6,000 worth of diamorphine and cannabis. A 55-year-old man was reported to the Procurator Fiscal.

And back in 2011, a resident miraculously escaped with minor injuries despite being stabbed four times in the stomach after asking two men to leave the block.

Scared residents have now set up their own group to lobby police and councillors for improvements.

They say matters were made worse after the front door to their block was continually broken for more than two years.

Cllr Gavin Barrie, Housing and Economy Convener, said: “The security of our tenants is extremely important to us and we have fixed the entry system for this property on a number of occasions over the last few years.

“We are currently looking to install a more robust solution long-term and in the meantime a temporary repair will be carried out on the door.”

Manager of the Halfway House pub, Linda Potter, said: “Problems are ongoing. We have lots of revellers littering and vomiting.

“There are drug users in the close at night with syringes thrown outside.”

Ms Potter said the close has been earmarked for a new priority zone scheme which could mean increased patrols and CCTV.

Chief Inspector Helen Harrison said officers are “working hard” to tackle drugs across the city centre, including the High Street and Fleshmarket Close.

“These areas are included within their regular patrols and officers will take action to deal with any criminality identified when necessary,” she added.