‘Feeling safe is vital for our quality of life’

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THE dramatic fall in crime in Princes Street and George Street over the last four years has to be warmly welcomed.

Like most of the city, these streets have never been dangerous places to visit, but they are clearly safer now.

Police work targeted at professional shoplifters and pickpocket gangs appears to have been particularly successful.

In a city like Edinburgh, where crime levels are relatively low and are generally falling, it is easy to take for granted the feeling of being safe as we go about our daily business.

But we should not underestimate how important that is to our quality of life.

A theft from a handbag may be a relatively low-level crime, but it can have a huge impact on how safe the victim feels long afterwards.

Driving down crime in the city centre makes a big difference to how pleasant the Capital is as a place to live, work and shop.

But it also has an important bearing on how the city is seen internationally, shaping the word of mouth spread by international visitors.

No one wants to go on holiday – and spend their money – in a city where crime is rife, or to set up a business there.

Not long ago Edinburgh was said to be developing a reputation as a “soft touch” for criminal gangs who would travel here by train from Glasgow and further afield to steal.

Everyone should appreciate the success of the city centre police in putting those criminals on the back foot once again.

The friendly final

PUBLICAN McKevin McGhee is getting plenty of ribbing ahead of the Edinburgh Cup clash – because the landlord of renowned Hearts pub The Diggers is a dedicated Hibbie.

He has drawn up two rotas for the aftermath of the final so either he or his bar staff can have time off to celebrate.

But he insists his allegiance to the Easter Road side has not led to any trouble and there is no animosity from his customers. Mr McGhee has even paid for one of the buses to take his Hearts-supporting regulars to Hampden – though he wishes them “a miserable journey home”.

It’s great that fans of both teams can have a bit of good-natured banter in the build-up to the big match. It’s not something that could happen in Glasgow, where the Old Firm rivalry is too intense.

Let’s hope the same friendly spirit is shown on May 19 and we can make the Edinburgh cup final a day for all to celebrate.