Too few bobbies on beat after shake-up
POLICE chiefs have admitted a £2 million overhaul of how they work in the Capital has left them with too few officers on the streets at night and not enough bobbies on the beat.
Operation Capital was supposed to put more officers on the streets and speed up response times by turning Edinburgh into one single police division.
But the shake-up has caused a series of problems and police chiefs have now ordered a raft of new measures to put them right.
Chief Constable Paddy Tomkins has accepted 58 recommendations for changes following an internal review of police operations in the city.
Among the changes ordered are a shake-up of officers’ shifts to put more police on the street at night and moves to ensure there are more bobbies on the beat in areas outside the city centre.
The report also recommends re-establishing three subdivisions in the city which were initially scrapped following the launch of Operation Capital in April 2003.
Chief Superintendent Jim Taylor, an independent senior officer who commands policing in East Lothian and Midlothian and who headed the review, says Operation Capital should continue, but he has made 58 recommendations for improvement.
Critics today branded the project, which was the brainchild of Chief Constable Paddy Tomkins, a waste of money.
Police board member Councillor Shami Khan, who has always been critical of the shake-up, said today: "It was clear from the outset that Operation Capital was never going to work because they just haven’t got the resources to cover such a big divisional area and police the communities at the same time.
"It has always been the city centre they’re looking after while the communities get neglected.
"Operation Capital has been a waste of money and resources."
The scheme saw three divisions - City Centre, West End and Leith - replaced with one super A Division.
But, according to the report, which will go before Lothian and Borders Police Board next week, three command divisions should again be set up to cover the west, east and city centre while A Division will continue to command the whole of the city.
A change in shift patterns has been suggested as well in a bid to get more officers on the beat at night. It is also recommended to ring-fence some community officers’ jobs so they are not dragged away to deal with city centre crimes.
And community officers will have to stay in their posts for a minimum of two years if the recommendations are approved.
Mr Tomkins today welcomed the report, saying the inquiry team had found many areas of strength in the structure and policing of Edinburgh.
He said: "It had always been the intention that on a major reorganisation of this scale we would review its operation. The review has also told us the balance of response officers and community beat officers is not working as had been expected.
"As a result, we need to revitalise local policing and integrate our approach to call handling and community policing."
Councillor Marilyne MacLaren said she felt the force had rushed into the scheme. " I think it [Operation Capital] was done too quickly and not enough lessons were learned from forces down south. Such changes should have happened much more slowly. Division A is about the size of Dumfries and Galloway Police Force - no wonder there has been a lack of policing in our communities.
"It has been clear that the new structure was imperfect, and not delivering many of the policing benefits predicted.
"It is a bold and brave step for the chief constable to have commissioned a review, consisting of not only police officers but a councillor, and now to stand by all of the 58 recommendations."
However, despite her criticisms, Cllr MacLaren said she was confident the changes could be made. She said: "I do believe that if implemented then these recommendations will deliver the high quality of policing service we need in Scotland’s capital."
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