Ch Supt Gareth Blair: Lessons in safety for students

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With the summer holidays now feeling like a distant memory, the new school terms have commenced, with Edinburgh’s colleges and universities also due to begin a new academic year.

This means that the city will welcome many new faces, who are beginning the most exciting period of their lives, as they begin the first year of their degree or diploma courses. Similarly, other students will also be returning after the summer break and I want to take this opportunity to welcome everyone who has chosen to study in the Capital all the very best in their academic pursuits.

The demands of studying, living away from home and of course, balancing an active social life, are stressful enough and the last thing you want to worry about is falling victim to crime while you’re focusing on coursework.

With that in mind, Police Scotland has launched its annual student safety campaign, which provides those attending college and university with a range of really helpful guidance aimed at safeguarding you, your home and your belongings. This information is available on our website at www.scotland.police.uk and will also be promoted on our social media channels.

Furthermore, officers will be attending a number of the freshers’ fairs across the coming weeks to engage with students and ensure they have all the advice they need to keep themselves safe.

I mentioned in my previous column that the end of Operation Summer City meant the beginning of our planning for Hallowe’en and Bonfire Night, which are now only a few short weeks away.

Once again, I want to reiterate my commitment to ensuring the scenes we witnessed in some parts of Edinburgh last year, do not occur again this year.

We are well under way with our partnership discussions to establish the level of local and national resources that will be deployed throughout the city over the two weeks surrounding Hallowe’en and Bonfire Night. In the run-up to these events we will continue to engage with the public, monitor the intelligence we receive and adapt our plans accordingly to maximise our ability to preserve public safety.

I truly believe that the vast majority of Edinburgh’s communities support the police and other emergency services and were shocked and appalled at the level of violence and aggression directed towards us in 2017. I would ask that all parents and guardians of young people speak to those in their care and discuss frankly the risks associated with getting involved in such disorder, as well as the consequences when they are caught by my officers.

Edinburgh is continually voted one of the most attractive and safest cities in the world to live, work and visit and I do not want a small minority ruining this image for the rest of us.

Chief Superintendent Gareth Blair is the divisional commander for Edinburgh