Ch Insp Helen Harrison: Be alert, not alarmed this Christmas

Chief Inspector Helen Harrison, Local Area Commander for South East Edinburgh. Picture: Greg Macvean
Chief Inspector Helen Harrison, Local Area Commander for South East Edinburgh. Picture: Greg Macvean
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As the Local Area Commander for the South East of the city, I have oversight and responsibility for the city centre, which has now been transformed into a winter wonderland for the festive season.

Over the past couple of weeks we have seen the number of people in the city centre rapidly increase, with Edinburgh’s communities out enjoying the sights and attractions in place for Christmas, as well as hitting the shops to buy gifts for friends and loved ones. In addition, the Capital is also starting to welcome visitors from further afield, all of whom wish to savour the atmosphere of Edinburgh during the holiday period.

We are committed to ensuring this Christmas and New Year is a memorable occasion for all the right reasons, but we need the public’s help to make this possible.

By taking simple steps to make sure your homes, outbuildings and vehicles are appropriately secured at all times, you will play a crucial role in deterring acquisitive crime such as housebreaking and theft, particularly during the darker winter months. Similarly, if you are out shopping or socialising then always look after your belongings and do not leave them unattended. Please also be aware of anyone trying to steal your wallet or purse and keep these items in a bag or pocket that is not easily accessbible.

If, like many of us, you plan to head to one of the city centre’s licensed venues then I urge you to please drink and behave responsibly. All too often we see good nights out ruined by the over consumption of alcohol. We have been working closely with staff at pubs and clubs and reminding them of their licensing responsibilities as well as encouraging them to report any alcohol-related disorder. If you are found to be involved in such an offence, you will be charged and subject to “Think Twice” bail conditions, which will prohibt you from entering any other city centre licensed premises until your case is heard in court.

On the subject of alcohol, I would once again urge anyone who has been drinking to refrain from getting behind the wheel of their vehicle and driving. Whether it’s immediately after a night out, or the morning after, you may be over the limit. We will have Road Policing Officers out monitoring the road network throughout December and if you chose to drink and drive you stand to lose more than just your licence.

In the coming days we will be launching our annual festive policing campaign to keep the public safe and provide a range of useful crime prevention advice. All of this information and more will be available on our social media pages, but we will also have increased patrols deployed to engage with the public directly.

Finally, I would like to address a story that has circulated in the media in relation to terror-related attack concerns around Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Street Party. Our Counter Terrorism Security Officers regularly provide awareness-raising briefings to various community groups and businesses as part of our commitment to prevention. During a recent meeting, one of out CTSA officers highlighted the importance of being alert and vigilant for any suspicious activity, given the status of the city and the iconic nature of the Street Party.

However, what was stressed during this meeting, and what I want everyone to be reassured of, is that there is no specific intelligence relating to any attack on Edinburgh and there is no need for our communities to avoid the city centre or any of the attractions.

Our messaging remains the same, be alert, not alarmed and report any concerns you may have so they can be investigated accordingly.

Chief Inspector Helen Harrison, Local Area Commander for South East Edinburgh