​Low level crime has a sorry history of fearsome escalation - Sue Webber

The Anchor Inn in Granton, Edinburgh, where Marc Webley, aged 38, was gunned down on New Year's Eve. 
Photo: Jane Barlow/PA WireThe Anchor Inn in Granton, Edinburgh, where Marc Webley, aged 38, was gunned down on New Year's Eve. 
Photo: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
The Anchor Inn in Granton, Edinburgh, where Marc Webley, aged 38, was gunned down on New Year's Eve. Photo: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
​​On Tuesday a Currie resident contacted me about trouble in his neighbourhood. What might be a minor nuisance once becomes disturbing if persistent, and three times in the previous 24 hours his door had been banged by a gang of youths who ran off.

After the second incident was reported, police promised a community officer would be in touch. By the third incident, the community officer was off and no others were available because of what was described as a major crime in North Edinburgh.

It didn’t take much to work out it was the murder of gangster Marc Webley, shot outside the Anchor Inn pub in Granton, bringing a life of violent crime to a predictably violent end.

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For someone jailed for 11 years for attempted murder aged just 19, his refusal to cooperate with police when he was attacked with a machete in 2021, the attempted murder charge he faced last year, and the revelling in his criminal reputation, it’s an understatement to say that respect for law and order was not something which overly concerned him, unless it was the law of the jungle.

The last available figures show he was far from alone, with 507 violent crimes in Edinburgh between April and September 2022, a 7.5 increase on the five-year average.

Choosing to lead a life like that starts somewhere, which brings me back to the minor incidents in Currie. As I’ve written here before, the area is being plagued by low-level crime, most of it committed by gangs of increasingly feral youths, which has been escalating since the end of November.

Apart from the customary graffiti, doors are being kicked, residents abused, a bottle has been thrown through a house window and a house was raided when the owners were away. It culminated in a violent confrontation between youths and local residents, which then resulted in the father of one boy appearing to seek further confrontation, dressed in his pyjamas. More youths descended on the estate and only dispersed when police eventually arrived after several 999 calls.

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The following night they were back, and it’s a clear sign of parental failure when a father’s reaction to his son spreading fear and alarm in a quiet, law-abiding community is to come out in his pyjamas to inflame the situation even further. What kind of an example is that for his son?

These kids are growing up to think they are untouchable, and no surprise when the SNP has underfunded the police, and their soft-touch approach makes excuses for offenders up to the age of 25. But Marc Webley should serve as a warning about where it can lead.

Unlike Edinburgh Council leader Cammy Day, I do not know the Webley family, but his record shows that if they tried to steer him away from a life of crime it was to say the least unsuccessful. Nor does bragging about his exploits nearly 20 years after his attempted murder conviction say much for the rehabilitation of offenders.

Speaking after Webley was jailed in 2005, Superintendent Terry Powell said it showed that, “by working with the public we can deal effectively with those people intent on terrorising our communities.” How wrong could he have been, but we have got to believe it can still be true.

Sue Webber is a Scottish Conservative Lothian MSP

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