MUCH has changed in the 16 years since Detective Sergeant Mark Lumsden joined the force.
Robbery suspects are just as likely to be 14-year-olds “taxing” or bullying each other for cash as hardened knife-wielding drug addicts.
After trouble flares, his crack team trawls social media for photos posted from city centre nightclubs as well as pounding the beat to identify suspects.But one constant remains – DS Lumsden’s determination to bring robbers and thugs to justice.
“It’s a real mixture. We have kids robbing or ‘taxing’ other kids and that comes under the collection of robbery, all the way up to repeat offenders,” said DS Lumsden.
“With under-18s, they’re more robberies with threats of violence but obviously there can also be violence used – punching and kicking.”
Anyone under the age of 18 suspected by police of committing a robbery is dealt with by the Children’s Reporter.
DS Lumsden leads a team of nine crack detectives out of Gayfield covering the east of the city – with another unit based in the west at Corstorphine.
He was speaking to the Evening News after we reported last month how robberies and attempted robberies are up 42 per cent on last year – with two-thirds cleared up. “Obviously the figures speak for themselves,” said DS Lumsden.
“There’s been a significant increase in robberies but on the back of that solvency rates have also improved.”
Violence used can range from intimidation to knife-wielding thugs turning over off-licences and shops.
DS Lumsden also said bogus robberies are a problem where benefit claimants say they were robbed to qualify for a crisis grant.
A dedicated city council team under the Scottish Welfare Fund umbrella, has been set up to tackle these phantom reports.
New ways of reporting crime meant that more and more offences are classed under robbery, he said.
“Robbery is no longer me coming up to you in the street with a knife demanding money,” he added. “It could be as easy as a threat and give me whatever you have.”
But he said all manner of robberies are investigated with the same priorities – helping the victim and bringing the perpetrators to justice.
“In relation to all robberies, we’re very much victim-led,” said DS Lumsden. “We investigate appropriately to give the victim assurance, to regain property, to keep people safe and to make sure people have confidence in the police.”
DS Lumsden’s team brought the Douglas brothers to justice in one of their most high-profile recent successes.
Michael, 27, and Derek, 30, targeted two women last October, attacking them before stealing their handbags, phones, jewellery and cash.
They were jailed last month for more than three years in total after Michael also pleaded guilty to assaulting a man on Leith Walk.
“Myself and the team have a lot of experience with this type of crime,” said DS Lumden. “To solve, these crimes are not very straightforward. If it’s not going our way, we need to keep going through the process, keeping banging our heads off the wall to get the results and when we do, that’s a good feeling.”
DS Lumsden said cracking cases can entail a mixture of “old-fashioned police work” pounding the beat and embracing technological advancements including tracking mobile phones and checking CCTV.
“I’m not trying to scare people,” he added. “Edinburgh is a fairly safe city where almost all the people are going about their business without any issues whatsoever.”