Chief Supt Gareth Blair: After Summer City we’re on fire alert

Chief Superintendent Gareth Blair is Divisional Commander for Edinburgh
Chief Superintendent Gareth Blair is Divisional Commander for Edinburgh
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We are entering the final week of this year’s Edinburgh Festival, meaning we are also entering the final week of our summer policing campaign, Operation Summer City.

I would like to take this opportunity to offer my sincerest thanks to all of the officers and staff involved in this initiative for all of their hard work and dedication so far. In addition to the Edinburgh police personnel working on Summer City, we have been supported by colleagues from Lothians and Scottish Borders Division, Forth Valley Division and Fife, as well as utilising a range of the resources from the national Operational Support Division. Our ability to call upon a range of specialisms and capabilities has greatly assisted in our endeavours to keep the public safe over the summer.

To that end, I’d also like to thank the public for their exemplary behaviour overall, which has helped contribute to an outstanding atmosphere within the city over the past month. I had the pleasure of getting out and about to meet the staff on this detail and speak to many locals and visitors from all over the world.

For the remaining days of the Festival, we will continue to have a high-visibility presence throughout the city centre to address any issues that arise, offer reassurance to our communities and engage with members of the public and the various performers occupying the streets. As has been demonstrated on our social media platforms, meeting the varied groups of people who call Edinburgh home during the summer has been an absolute pleasure for the Summer City team.

But with one event coming to a close, we now turn our attention to the next major items on the agenda for Edinburgh; Hallowe’en and Bonfire Night. Much like Summer City, our policing deployment for these days, and the weekends around them, will be supplemented by specialist force resources. This will bolster the number of Capital-based officers already rostered to be working during these dates. Evening News readers will remember the pictures that emerged during last year’s Bonfire Night, where communities, and the officers working within them, were targeted by a minority of individuals. This resulted in significant damage to property and saw one of my officers sustaining painful injuries.

We made it clear following these incidents that such crimes would not be tolerated and I reiterate that sentiment now. Lessons have been learned since last year, deployment plans have been re-evaluated and resource requirements have been updated. We will not allow our city to be turned into a haven for disorder and anyone who attempts to recreate the scenes of last year will be robustly dealt with.

The public have a vital role to play in helping us keep our communities safe by having frank discussions with young people in their care and reminding them of the risks associated with such reckless behaviour. In addition, retail premises which are licensed to sell fireworks will be visited extensively to ensure these items are not sold to anyone under the age of 18.

On a more positive note, I want to praise the work of local policing teams and proactive units across Edinburgh for their outstanding efforts in helping us tackle a range of crimes, which the public have identified as policing priorities for the division. Over the past few months serious assaults, housebreaking, theft of motor vehicles and antisocial behaviour has all fallen in comparison to the same period last year. However, we cannot and will not become complacent following these successful reductions and we will continue to focus on reducing these offences further and keeping the city as one of the safest places in the world to live, work and visit.

I’d like to finish this month’s column by congratulating Iain Livingstone on being appointed Chief Constable for Police Scotland. I am confident he is the right man to lead this organisation as we move forward.

Chief Supt Gareth Blair is Divisional Commander for Edinburgh.