EDINBURGH has always been a city with two faces, the wealth and privilege of the New Town standing in stark contrast to life in crime-ridden housing schemes.
That is as true today as it was when the rich residents once lived in the higher levels of the Old Town tenements to escape the smell of the poor living below them.
The latest reminder of the social problems that blight life in some of our neighbourhoods comes in today’s report on fireraising. The fact that a quarter of all deliberately set blazes are started in one relatively small part of the city shows the extent of the problems that many families have to confront day to day. These same communities endure far higher levels of car theft and other crimes than most of their more affluent neighbours.
Cars being stolen and burnt outside your home is not only dangerous, it also strikes fear into people. Will it be your car that is next? What happens if your child is crossing the street the next time the joyriders come speeding by in their stolen cars? These anxieties affect everyone living in neighbourhoods with high crime levels, not just those many who become the direct victims of these crime. That takes a heavy toll on your quality of life.
The disproprtionate impact which young criminals are causing in north Edinburgh has been recognised in recent months by the police and city council. Their joint Stronger North campaign, aimed at weeding out the hard core of offenders causing the biggest problems and improve life in these communities, has been starting to make a difference.
What today’s report highlights is how deepseated these problems have been allowed to become. Turning things around won’t happen overnight, over the course of a few weeks or even months. The police and council need to be in this for the long haul if we are to make a real and lasting difference.