Antisocial buskers ‘face fines’ in new police clampdown

New laws are being introduced to tackle busking. Picture; John Devlin
New laws are being introduced to tackle busking. Picture; John Devlin
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Buskers will be shown a yellow card, face fines and could have their equipment seized as part of a new two-strike initiative designed to curb “anti-social” performances in Edinburgh city centre.

It is hoped the system will mute disruptive buskers in Edinburgh through an initial warning followed by a fixed penalty notice of £40 if they continue to annoy local residents.

It’s not fair on those living, staying or working in the city to be disrupted

David Robertson

Police Scotland say the scheme, launched yesterday with the backing of City of Edinburgh council, is designed to support “responsible” buskers who stick to rules banning the use of amplification devices and restricting performances to before 9pm.

However, they warned musicians who flout the new system risk having their equipment taken away.

City centre Inspector David Robertson said: “We have dozens of responsible buskers who come to Edinburgh to entertain the crowds, but it is those who cause disruption and annoyance who we are showing the yellow card to.

“It’s not fair on those living, staying or working in the city centre to be disrupted and we receive a considerable amount of complaints.

“I would be delighted if my team issues as few of these yellow cards as possible, so I would appeal to those performing to be mindful of others.”

Violinist Robert Hergame, who has been busking
throughout the Festival, agreed the scheme would help those without amplification but questioned the 9pm curfew, claiming musicians with non-electric instruments are more responsible.

He said: “Being on the street all day with a violin is difficult, but it’s harder when you’re surrounded by people with electric guitars and huge amplifiers, it’s hard to make yourself heard.

“For someone like me, who isn’t as loud, it is a good thing, but I don’t see why it has to end at night if we aren’t being loud. Most of the people who use instruments like mine are responsible, they aren’t doing it to be disruptive.”

Police Scotland can enforce orders for buskers to cease disruptive performances under section 54 of the Civic Government Scotland Act 1982.

Signs have now been placed on Rose Street, the Royal Mile and other popular busking areas while community officers are set to hand out “Hit the Right Note” cards to buskers, listing dos and don’ts for performers.

It asks buskers to perform from 9am to 9pm, at a “considerate volume” and instructs them to move at least 50 metres each hour.

Councillor Ian Campbell, vice-convener of culture and communities, said: “Edinburgh is world-renowned for being an artistic city and the majority of buskers contribute positively to this reputation.

“Even though street performers aren’t legally required to be licensed by the council, they are expected to stick to our guidelines and we are engaging with buskers and setting the tone so everyone can live, work and visit in harmony.”