Comment: Criminals will be looking over their shoulder

there is no doubt that many people in Edinburgh feel less safe in their homes than they did just a few months ago.

The rising number of break-ins across the city has of course had a very direct impact on scores of households, but it has also had a much wider effect than that. Everyone whose home is broken into has family, friends and neighbours who hear about it and feel a little less safe themselves.

So it is reassuring to see Capital police chief Superintendent Mark Williams taking decisive action to tackle what is one of the biggest concerns of many city residents right now. That is particularly true after so many concerns have been raised, by this newspaper among many others, about the lack of flexibility within Police Scotland to deal with local priorities.

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The 100-strong city-wide team comprising officers with good local knowledge of neighbourhoods across the city coupled with technological support such as faster forensic work is exactly the kind of forceful response needed here. The small hardcore of criminals who inflict most of this misery on the Capital will now be looking over their shoulder more often, worrying that someone is on their tail. That is exactly how it should be.

It is important to remember at times like this that Edinburgh is still on the whole a safe place to live. Most of these break-ins do take place when houses are empty, rather than as we sleep upstairs, and there are steps that we can all take to make our property that bit safer.

We can do our part. The police are doing their part. But the courts need to do theirs too.

It is no good householders taking all reasonable steps to protect themselves, and the police throwing their considerable resources at the problem, if the repeat offenders simply return from the courts like a revolving door. There needs to be proper punishments to fit the crimes.