Crime figures: 'Edinburgh is, by and large, a safe place to live'

THE latest Lothian and Borders crime statistics are a reminder of a fact that is all too easily overlooked – Edinburgh is, by and large, a safe place to live.

The annual review shows an encouraging ten per cent drop in recorded crime across the board, alongside an eight per cent fall in violent offences.

Many will appreciate the progress being made against vandalism, a consistent bugbear in city neighbourhoods, with detection rates up and reported incidents down.

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The force recognises itself that a renewed effort is needed to tackle a rise in housebreaking, but this negative trend needs to be seen in the context of an improved clear-up rate and recent successes in jailing prolific burglars.

Of more concern is the question of how far the force will be able to sustain this current level of performance. Patrick Shearer, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland and chief constable of Dumfries and Galloway, has given some indication of the concern among his colleagues countrywide by talking starkly in recent days about the need to prioritise policing resources.

With swingeing budget cuts of at least 12 per cent in the next three years expected in Lothian and Borders, one thing is certain – what is achieved in the coming years will be done with less staff and resources.

Some big decision lie ahead. However, in Chief Constable Gavin Strang and his newly-appointed deputy Steve Allen, the force has two progressive-thinking leaders who we are confident will make the right choices.

Blame the trams

OF ALL the people in Edinburgh who are hacked off with the trams the bosses at Lothian Buses must be among the most pig sick.

As if the prospect of their profits being swallowed up for the next 21 years to pay for the tram line was not bad enough, they are now being investigated by Scotland's traffic commissioner over an unusual surge in complaints about poor service.

And what is the single biggest reason for buses failing to keep to their timetable – yes, you've guessed it, it's surely the tram works.

It is to be hoped the commissioner adopts a commonsense approach to the situation, because the last thing Edinburgh needs is a bus company further damaged by a fine – especially when the tram line looks certain to run a much shortened version of its original route.