Edinburgh Christmas and Hogmanay festivals: Police launch Operation Winter City to keep people safe

Police have declared they will have an increased presence in Edinburgh city centre over the festive period as part of a newly-launched operation.

Running until January 3, Operation Winter City will see more officers on foot throughout the city centre, in conjunction with the winter festivals, providing public reassurance and deterring criminal activity.

It is expected Edinburgh’s attractions will be at full capacity this year, due to the removal of Covid restrictions, and the city is expected to be considerably busier than recent festive periods.

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Edinburgh is well-known for its festive celebrations, including the Christmas market, an ice rink, Santa Land and a variety of funfair rides.

The Big Wheel returns next week. Picture by Andrew O'Brien.
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The Hogmanay festival will also be returning next month after the Covid pandemic led to the famous street party being cancelled in 2020 and 2021.

Sophie Ellis-Bextor will headline the Night Afore Disco Party on December 30, with Scottish band Altered Images also on the bill, while the Pet Shop Boys will headline the Hogmanay show.

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Throughout Operation Winter City, police will undertake foot and mobile patrols to engage with the public, offer reassurance and respond to any incidents.

Superintendent Sam Ainslie, gold commander for Operation Winter City, said: “I am privileged to be leading this year’s event, and with no restrictions in place I fully expect that the city centre will be back to its vibrant best.

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The Big Wheel returns next week. Picture by Andrew O'Brien.

“As with all other times of the year, we remain committed to ensuring that everyone enjoys Edinburgh’s events, attractions and venues safely. However, notwithstanding our efforts, the public also have a vital role in helping us achieve this.

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“I would ask if you are heading into the city centre at any point over Christmas and new year, that you make sure that you know how you will be travelling, both there and back. Please also ensure that you keep hold of your belongings at all times.”

Revellers are urged to be mindful if drinking alcohol, with police warning violent or anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated.

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Police can impose “Think Twice” bail conditions if members of the public are involved in an alcohol-linked crime, which will ban them from pubs or anywhere in the city centre that sells alcohol until after their case is dealt with in the courts.

Ms Ainslie said: “We will regularly post what our officers are doing to keep you safe during this year’s campaign, including crime prevention and personal safety updates.”

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It comes as it was revealed Edinburgh’s failed Christmas market operators were asked to submit their plans on nine separate occasions before their £5.5 million deal with the council was axed. Councillors have called for an audit of the outsourcing process to avoid future contract chaos.

The fiasco, which almost culminated in the cancellation of Edinburgh’s festive attractions this year, has sparked a debate around which procurement model the council should use when brining in outside companies to run large-scale events.

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A report detailing what went wrong with the agreement between the council and Angel Event Experience (AEE) went before the scrutiny committee on Tuesday.

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