Leader: ‘Police have helped create a safer city’

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IF Inspector Rebus hadn’t already handed in his police warrant card, he might have been forced to consider retiring anyway.

The dramatic fall in the number of murders in the city in the last couple of years means there has been increasingly few cases for Edinburgh’s homicide detectives to investigate.

Of course, we should be cautious in reading too much into a trend which might just as easily rise again next year.

But the fact that there were just two murders in the city over the last 12 months – and only five the year before – is a reminder of just how safe a place in general Edinburgh is to live.

That is not just an isolated statistic. Crime in general is down. The drug gangs who brought so many guns on to the city’s streets just a few years ago have largely been dismantled and their members put behind bars.

And, as the outgoing Chief Constable of Lothian and Borders David Strang pointed out in this paper last week, every murder committed across the region during his six-year tenure has been solved.

These factors do not explain fully why the murder rate has fallen so low – part of the explanation is no doubt simply good luck – but they do show that the police have had some notable success in 
making Edinburgh a safer place to live.

The officers who have served 
Lothian and Borders should be proud to be bringing that local legacy to the new national Police Scotland force.

They will know, too, that as members of such a high-profile new organisation, their work will now face even greater scrutiny than ever in the coming months and years.

Long road ahead

SINCE the Evening News first revealed the Mortonhall ashes scandal, it has been incredibly difficult for both the parents involved and members of the public to even begin to understand what has gone wrong.

Today, we have the first glimpse of the thinking of the people in charge of the crematorium at the time. The former head of bereavement services, George Bell, is said to have stated that he could not guarantee that what was left in the incinerator was the actual remains of the child and not coffin ash.

This bizarre twist is one more piece of the jigsaw which will have to be carefully examined during the inquiry by Dame Elish Angiolini.

Today, we have an important insight into this scandal, but we are no closer to an explanation.