Comment: Police have powers to make area safer

there will be many people who recognise the misery being described by residents in Pilton – and many others who don’t.

The stabbing of father-of-three Jie Yu has understandably heightened tensions in a community which already feels under siege. Stolen cars and motorbikes are raced past their homes almost nightly and some parents are afraid to let their high school-aged children step over the front door after dark. That is no way to live.

As we have recognised many times in the past, Edinburgh is on the whole a safe place to live, but too often how safe you feel depends on whereabouts in the city you live.

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Some estates suffer at the hands of a small number of criminals who appear to have little or no fear of the authorities. They are not lawless places, but there is a handful of offenders who treat them like that.

These professional law-breakers are responsible for the vast majority of the most serious social problems in their neighbourhoods. Most people who live in Pilton and Drylaw, or Gilmerton and the Inch, could give you their names. Yet all too often the police and city council appear powerless to stop them. They are not powerless.

Scotland has more police officers than for a generation and violent crime is falling across the country. The resources are there to tackle antisocial behaviour on our estates if targeted properly.

The authorities also have significant powers which are all too rarely used. The worst offenders can be evicted by the local authority. The police and council can work together to serve Asbos on them. These antisocial behaviour orders have been decried as being a badge of honour for yobs – but in many cases they have proved their worth, allowing police to arrest the most serious offenders as soon as they set foot in local troublespots.

The powers are there to transform the lives of the people of Pilton. It is high time they were used.