Comment: Mark Williams a hard act to follow

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EDINBURGH is today on the hunt for a new police chief after the departure of city Chief Superintendent Mark Williams – and he’ll be a hard act to follow.

Sure, the police have never been far from the headlines during his time in the post and this newspaper is always the first to hold the force to account over failings. But we also recognise what an incredibly difficult job our local commanders have.

Ch Supt Williams has successfully steered the Capital’s thin blue line through the first years of Police Scotland while having to deal with the so-called “Glasgowfication” of priorities in the Capital from above which has seen controversial raids on the city’s saunas, increasing use of stop and search, and successful housebreaking teams being disbanded.

They may not have been his decisions but as the local face of Police Scotland it has been Ch Supt Williams who has had to take much of the flak.

Then there is the issue of simply policing events in Scotland’s capital on a daily basis, where the equivalent of 55 officers every day are taken away from local teams to provide cover elsewhere.

Ch Supt Williams has worked hard to engage with the community, including through a column in this newspaper, and we hope that work is continued by his successor.

We also trust they won’t shy away from tackling the issues faced by the city head-on – in particular, the push for a real debate on over-provision of alcohol in the city centre.

The role of the local commander for the Capital must be to put the city’s interests first, to recognise we face different issues from the rest of Scotland, and to resist any perceived power grab from the west of the country.

Mark Williams says today that he is leaving Edinburgh in a good place. He is – but that is not to say there is not much work still to be done.