Antisocial complaints drop

THE number of complaints about antisocial behaviour and vandalism in the Capital are said to have plummeted after a community policing drive.

Just under 4000 complaints were lodged about antisocial behaviour in the year to the end of April 2010 - a fifth consecutive annual decline and a drop of 27 per cent on 2005/06.

However, the figure still amounts to 11 complaints every day in Edinburgh and city leaders admit more still has to be done.

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Vandalism has also fallen by a quarter in just two years, with 8769 offences detected in 2009/10.

Superintendent Ivor Marshall said: "Our focus on prevention means we have tried to establish ways to not only detect those responsible for crimes, but also work with them to stop reoffending.

"We have engaged in diversionary activities with youths, as well as using our school link officers to get across the message that all types of anti social behaviour, including graffiti, will not be tolerated.

"These crimes really affect the quality of life of local residents and as such we take them very seriously."

Changes have also been made recently to community policing with the introduction of "safer neighbourhood teams", which is organised by Lothian and Borders Police and part-funded by the city council.

The teams have seen more police officers on the street in a bid to cut antisocial behaviour further.

One team - made up of a sergeant and a number of police constables - now covers every council ward in the city.

Shift patterns have also been changed to ensure that more police are on duty at the times when there are often more problems with antisocial behaviour.

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Community officers also work with council staff to target specific problems in a particular area.

Councillor Paul Edie, the city's social care leader, said: "Getting all of the parties together, talking about the problem and sharing what information we can has made a big impact on these figures.

"We have had good intelligence-led policing and been able to shift resources about and have them in the right place at the right time, which has made the difference.

"It is about deploying what we have got better and making better use of resources.

We have a more visible presence in key areas now and know much better where the areas are that there are problems, such as where graffiti signatures are popping up."

And Cllr Edie said that he hopes the new focus on a visible police presence through community safety teams can help the number of incidences fall further.

"For antisocial behaviour, there is about one complaint per 100 people over a year," he said. "In some areas it can be a real problem but we are doing what we can to tackle it."