POLICE are set to team up with a university academic to find out whether more officers in the city centre makes festive revellers feel safer.
The force has promised a high-visibility presence throughout the Christmas and New Year celebrations as part of Operation Winter City – with a special “grotto” based in St Andrew Square.
And Dr Rebecca Finkel, senior lecturer in events management at Queen Margaret University, will be on hand to carry out research into the public’s perception of safety.
She wants to find out if the increased visual presence of officers at city events is actually making people feel safer.
Her research will then be used to help police plan their response to future Christmas celebrations in the Capital.
Dr Finkel said: “Given current global events, people’s safety at events is now one of the most significant areas of festival and event management, and it is impossible to run successful events or have a healthy tourism economy if people feel unsafe. Edinburgh is known throughout the world for its festivals, so it is especially important to understand how the city is responding to such safety imperatives.”
“We are pleased to be working with Police Scotland on this important project and to be undertaking research which will help the Force establish whether a visible police presence at event locations in the city is having a positive impact on the way people feel.”
The police “grotto” will be staffed throughout the festive season to advise revellers. Superintendent Lesley Clark, from Police Scotland’s Edinburgh Division, said: “During the planning stage for Operation Winter City we decided that it was really important for us to have a base in the heart of the city centre, which allows us to engage with the public, offer crime prevention and safety advice and deter the type of criminal activity that tends to occur within busy parts of this city during this time of year.
“With our specially-built ‘grotto’ in St Andrew Square, we have provided local residents, businesses and visitors to the city with a hub by which they can come speak to us and find out everything we’re doing to keep them safe.
“At the same time, the grotto lets people come in and report any suspicious activity or criminal offences they have witnessed.
“Throughout the city centre there will be high-visibility police patrols deployed during key times and while we believe this will be welcomed by the public, we are really keen to get people’s views on how our presence has impacted upon them.
“In partnership with Queen Margaret University, we have devised a survey that officers will offer to those they come into contact with during their ‘Winter City’ duties.
“We are really grateful to the university for its assistance and support and eagerly await the findings of the survey, which will undoubtedly help us shape how we police the city centre next year.”