Edinburgh Hogmanay security review after Paris

Fireworks above Edinburgh Castle and Princes Street on Hogmanay. Picture: Jane Barlow

Fireworks above Edinburgh Castle and Princes Street on Hogmanay. Picture: Jane Barlow

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A REVIEW of security arrangements for Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations is underway in the wake of the terror attacks in Paris.

Senior officers have insisted there is no specific threat to the capital’s festivities, which attract around 150,000 people to the city centre over new years.

Obviously in light of the tragic events in Paris we are reviewing security arrangements around upcoming events, but I would like to reassure people there has been no change to the UK threat level and it should be noted at this time there is no known threat or link to Scotland from the attacks in Paris.

Mark Williams

However Police Scotland said although people should not be alarmed there was still a need for vigilance because of the current “severe” threat of a terror attack in the UK.

The officer in charge of the Hogmanay event has urged anyone concerned about suspicious behaviour to come forward, but insisted there was no evidence to link the attacks in Paris with Scotland.

Thousands of tickets have already been sold around the world for the three-day programme, which is worth more than £40 million to the economy.

Security is usually tight at the main street party on Hogmanay, with stewards carrying out bag searches at entry gates to ensure glass bottles are not taken into the arena.

However more than 50,000 people also flock to the city centre to watch the traditional torchlight procession curtain-raiser from the Old Town to Calton Hill on 30 December.

Last year the number of police officers working at the event was significantly scaled back after the new single police force demanded organisers meet the cost of providing cover for the first time.

The City of Edinburgh Council still had to find more than £100,000 from its own budget to meet the policing bill after previously agreeing a fixed contract with event producers.

A major safety review was ordered in the wake of last year’s celebrations after severe crowd congestions problems were reported at the top of The Mound.

As a result, the street party arena has been expanded this year to include the Royal Mile for the first time since the Millennium celebrations.

News of a review emerged as Police Scotland launched their annual campaign to keep people safe in Edinburgh to coincide with the opening of rides and attractions in the heart of the capital.

The force - which has urged the public to “be alert, but not alarmed” - says there will be a 50 per cent increase in the number of officers on duty in the city centre over the festive period.

Security was stepped up at the Hogmanay party in 2002 in the wake of a series of arrests of terror suspects in Edinburgh in the run-up to the event, however it passed off without incident.

Superintendent Mark Williams, divisional commander for Edinburgh, said: “Our number one priority is ensuring all the people who live, work and visit Edinburgh are kept safe and secure.

“Obviously in light of the tragic events in Paris we are reviewing security arrangements around upcoming events, but I would like to reassure people there has been no change to the UK threat level and it should be noted at this time there is no known threat or link to Scotland from the attacks in Paris.”

“What is important is people report concerns and any suspicious behaviour. We will act on each and every report. Don’t be alarmed, but be vigilant. Police Scotland depends on information from the public in efforts to keep us all safe.”

A spokesman for the city council, which has overall responsibility for the street party, said: “Detailed discussions have taken place between the council and Police Scotland for many months on the arrangements for this year’s winter festivals.

“In light of recent events we will continue to work together to monitor the situation on an on-going basis.

“As with previous years we encourage the public to enjoy the world-class festive activities in the city while remaining vigilant and reporting any suspicious activity.”

A spokeswoman for Unique Events, the company which produces the city’s three-day programme, said: “There are obviously constant reviews of the situation given what happened in Paris last week, but at this stage we have no comment to make at all.”

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