I’m not concerned whether the policing of our city is perceived as having an Edinburgh or Glasgow stamp.
I very much want to know that it is effective. I want to know that when people need urgent police assistance there is a prompt response. I want to know that when information is passed to the police about drug dealing that it is acted upon (within the law). I want to know that when there is drunken disorder on the streets the police will challenge it. I want to know that when a house is broken into or a bike is stolen that there will be a prompt and intelligent enquiry made.
Received wisdom is that preventing crime is better than solving it. Certainly. But it is often forgotten that bringing an offender to justice sends powerful messages to victim, culprit and aggrieved citizen all in one.
Current policing strategy emphasises reassuring the public. Reassurance has a place – but reality is more important than perception.
So, here are the top three requests. Falling crime rates must be driven down further and more crimes must be solved. With less crime recorded, the police should have more time to solve crimes which in the past received less attention. Suggested targets would be the morale-sapping resurgence of graffiti or the ever present theft of bikes. Or it may be at the more serious end of crime such as people trafficking – a modern form of slavery – of which there is some evidence in Edinburgh.
Contacting the police for assistance needs to improve. Phoning the police call centre is often still a bewildering experience for many people. It is too difficult for people with information to contact the right local officer. And where there is urgency too often emergency communication doesn’t deliver the rapid response we citizens require in a crisis.
Judicial processes are too slow. Many have the experience of supplying what seems to be clear evidence of drug dealing which fails to lead to decisive action. I do understand the complexities of using intelligence information and the operational and legal constraints on giving meaningful feedback to communities. However, procedures for obtaining a search warrant, for example, seem to be bureaucracy bound.
Of course, powers need to be balanced with individual freedom. I know police have all the complications of dealing predominantly with people with chaotic behaviour. We expect efficiency and integrity, combined with the wisdom of King Solomon and occasional acts of risk and bravery.
I don’t care whether policing comes with a Glasgow or Edinburgh tag. I want criminals and lawbreakers to be fearful of being caught and residents and visitors to the city to be as free from crime and antisocial behaviour as can be.
• Cameron Rose in councillor for Southside & Newington, leader of the Conservative Group on Edinburgh Council and a former Lothian and Borders police inspector.