THE number of dedicated community police officers in the Capital is set to be cut – and council chiefs are angry there has been no consultation on the move.
The plan only emerged after Inch Community Association was told the number of community officers in that area was being cut from seven to three as part of a city-wide change.
Ultimately it’s a Police Scotland decision, but it would have been nice if we had been properly consulted, not just informed.Cammy Day
The move does not affect the officers paid for by the city council’s annual £2.6 million funding, which includes two community officers in each ward.
But it is understood police chiefs are reducing the overall number of community officers in order to boost the number available to respond to incidents across the city.
Mark Mulgrew, chair of Inch Community Association, said the community was appalled by the decision.
He said: “We have seen our community policing reduced to near non-existent as it is. There is no physical police presence in the area to reassure locals that they are being supported in the fight against crime.
“Housebreaking has been an issue in South Edinburgh. If we’re feeling wary about this reduction, the criminals will be seeing it as an opportunity.”
Council community safety leader Cammy Day said he had not been told the full scale of the cuts or when they would happen.
He said: “We need to understand how many and how it will impact on the city and in particular the areas where we have higher crime rates.
“It would have been more helpful if Police Scotland could have had this discussion a bit more openly with the council and also the community councils.
“It would have been better to have a discussion rather than just be told ‘This is what we’re doing’. Ultimately it’s a Police Scotland decision, but it would have been nice if we had been properly consulted, not just informed.”
He said the police claimed the move was about a better policing model, adding: “Communities will not want to see a reduction in community officers and I’m sure they would want to be involved in the process too.”
Daniel Johnson, newly elected Labour MSP for Edinburgh Southern, said: “After the controversies of the police centralisation, this move beggars belief.
“Labour has consistently called for a restoration of local accountability but removal of community officers without so much as a word of discussion would be a move in the opposite direction.
“Lack of consultation with the council is bad enough, but it is even worse not to consult with community councils before making such big changes.”
Edinburgh police commander Chief Superintendent Kenny MacDonald said: “Edinburgh Division is reviewing its operating model to ensure it delivers the best possible service to the people of the city.
“We are consulting with key stakeholders and officers and the process is ongoing – however, initial assessments show that we should make some changes now, to improve both our response to the thousands of priority-graded calls we receive each week, and our work on community matters carried out by officers embedded within their neighbourhoods.
“The public can be rest assured that these interim changes, and the ultimate aim of this review, are designed to strengthen the policing we provide for the long term, and all views and suggestions put forward during this process will be considered.”
The police said they could not give the current number of community officers because it was an “operational matter”.