For this month’s column, I’d like to focus on the exceptional working relationships that my officers throughout the city have developed and continue to maintain with our partner agencies.
Policing, much like other public services, has faced unprecedented challenges over the past ten years, not least the increasing demand on our service amidst tighter budgets.
As Divisional Commander for the Capital, it is my job to manage these challenges and ensure that the quality of service we deliver is not only maintained but improved.
I believe the solution to this is through the outstanding work my officers carry out on a daily basis alongside our colleagues within local authority, social work, education, health, voluntary organisations, as well as other emergency services.
Our Family Housing and Support Team works closely with City of Edinburgh Council staff around the city. They liaise with healthcare professionals and housing associations to provide joint interventions to tackle anti-social behaviour and – alongside community policing teams, school link officers and Local Alcohol and Violence Reduction Units – provide a comprehensive service for the most vulnerable members of our communities: preventing as much as detecting crime.
The changing profile of demand we face in policing means that four out of five calls we deal with do not result in a crime report. While our Specialist Crime Division is second to none when it comes to investigating serious crime, much of what we deal with in local policing relates to mental health, drug and alcohol abuse, missing people, and supporting and protecting children and families who experience inequality at first hand.
In most cases, early intervention is the key to breaking the cycle of deprivation, abuse and crime that starts in childhood and can sometimes end in prison, drug abuse and avoidable death.
The importance of partnership working cannot be stressed enough. It’s why I have been meeting with colleagues in Children’s Services to plan how we can work better together to detect and prevent child sexual exploitation.
I have been talking to council colleagues about making better use of our resources and buildings so we can deliver joint services more efficiently, and the provision of off-road motorbikes to tackle anti-social riding and theft is a further example of that collaborative approach.
We are also working with Health, Scottish Government and our local authority to develop a new forensic examination facility in Edinburgh that will establish a world class service for victims of sexual crime.
I am confident we have the tools to respond to the challenges that lie ahead if we can continue to maintain and build on the trust we have with our partners. That means pooling expertise and sharing resources so that together we can provide the public services that the people of Edinburgh demand and deserve.
Chief Superintendent Richard Thomas is Divisional Commander for Edinburgh.