A HUGE police patrol was deployed in one of Edinburgh’s crime hotspots last night to monitor marauding gangs and quell any sign of Hallowe’en disorder.
Around 23 officers swept into Pilton as part of a major crackdown on unruly behaviour that aims to reassure residents “terrorised” by months of mindless joyriding, car thefts and violence.
The north Edinburgh suburb has descended into chaos in recent months with a string of vehicle thefts – 55 motorbikes have been stolen since July – culminating in the stabbing of Chinese takeaway owner Jie Yu, 37, last month.
Children as young as 12 have been charged over the crime spree sweeping the neighbourhood.
But the city has opened a new front in the battle to subdue the problem with plans to press private landlords to take action against unruly tenants.
Housing officers in Edinburgh City Council can seize properties from private landlords who fail to keep their tenants in check.
The Hallowe’en clampdown was launched days ahead of StrongerNorth – a crime-fighting project aimed at curbing disorder.
Figures released by Police Scotland suggest the area has been targeted by officers in recent weeks with around 62 stop-and-searches performed and a series of alleged drug dealers arrested.
Chief Inspector Sara Buchanan, who spearheaded last night’s operation, said Pilton had become a “hot spot for all kinds of crime” but the StrongerNorth scheme would keep residents informed of progress.
She added: “Police Scotland is immensely pleased to be working with colleagues from City of Edinburgh Council to tackle antisocial behaviour in the Forth Ward area. Through the provision of extra resources, we are already seeing positive results.
“However there is still work to be done and we will continue to work with our partners to create a better community.”
Community safety leader Councillor Cammy Day, who represents the troubled ward, said the new efforts sought to “maximise” the powers available to the council and police.
Worried residents hailed the police crackdown as a positive step in an area they dubbed Edinburgh’s “wild west”.
Caitlin Graham, 16, lamented the recent crime wave sweeping Pilton.
She said: “Recent events have been terrible. I can’t even put it into words – it makes me speechless how bad it’s turned out, with the housebreakings and the motorbike thefts. I think it’s got worse.
“Pilton gets called the Wild West of Edinburgh – that’s not exactly a good thing.”
Another resident, Ryan McKay, 21, said the upsurge in police activity had been a success.
“The police presence is working,” he said.
“It’s calming things down. There’s not as much trouble in the area, and there are fewer troublemakers.”