Ch Supt Gareth Blair: The stage is set for Festival policing

Chief Superintendent Gareth Blair is Divisional Commander for Edinburgh. Picture; Greg Macvean
Chief Superintendent Gareth Blair is Divisional Commander for Edinburgh. Picture; Greg Macvean
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The extensive good weather Edinburgh has been enjoying over the past couple of months has meant there’s a proper summer feel in the Capital as we approach the beginning of the Festival.

From Wednesday, August 1, the event begins in earnest and to coincide with this we will also be launching our annual Festival policing campaign – Operation Summer City.

During the Festival Edinburgh’s population doubles, with visitors coming from all over the world to join locals in savouring the sights, sounds and atmosphere of this internationally-renowned celebration.

With around one million people inhabiting the city, it is essential that we have an appropriate response in key areas and Summer City will utilise both local and national resources to keep the public safe.

If you are out and about within the city centre over the coming month, you will see our officers providing a high-visibility presence to engage with festival-goers and performers, deter criminality and address any issues which may arise. Furthermore, they will be able to provide the public with a range of crime prevention and personal safety information.

For the third year running, our own “Unofficial Fringe Venue 999” returns to the city and will be based within Princes Street Gardens. As always, this will serve as a mobile police station within the heart of the city and anyone wishing to report a crime or obtain our safety literature is welcome to attend.

Throughout the Festival we will be issuing various updates and pieces of advice on our social media channels and if you’d like to receive these and join in the conversation then please like our Edinburgh Division Facebook page or follow @EdinburghPolice on Twitter.

What is important to stress, however, is that normal policing does not stop during this time and we will continue to deal with any and all matters that arise within our communities.

One thing that we know will be of great concern to many members of the public is the continued issue of motorcycle theft and associated antisocial behaviour. It is a common occurrence over the summer for tourists to arrive on motorcycles and subsequently report their vehicles have been stolen. This is in addition to the various offences reported from residents throughout the city. I want to stress again that these crimes will not be tolerated and through both Operation Soteria and Operation Orbit, we have seen reports of motorcycle theft drop from almost 271 between April and June 2017 to 74 in the same period this year. In addition, antisocial behaviour linked to motorbikes has fallen significantly, with a 60 per cent reduction having been reported during the same time.

We will not become complacent in our efforts to further tackle these crimes, but the results reflect the dedication and proactivity of local policing teams targeting hot-spot areas to identify and deter offenders.

Stopping acquisitive crime, including housebreaking, remains another of our top priorities and with the extremely warm weather and lighter evenings, we want to make sure our communities are not making their homes an easy target for criminals. If you are leaving your home unattended then please ensure you close and secure all windows and doors appropriately and keep anything of value stored safely out of sight. Please also remember that sheds, garages and outbuildings are extensions of your home so keep them safely locked too. We have a range of useful crime prevention advice available on our website at www.scotland.police.uk.

To all of those who live and work in Edinburgh, and to those joining us for the summer, please have a fantastic time enjoying everything the city has to offer. We will be on hand doing everything we can to keep everyone safe.

Chief Superintendent Gareth Blair is Divisional Commander for Edinburgh