Leader: 'CCTV can only be one part of a wider solution'

THE installation of CCTV cameras at the scene of one of Edinburgh's most shocking recent crimes will bring a degree of reassurance to residents.

When the Evening News investigated the killing of takeaway driver Simon San in Lochend almost three months ago, we found locals were living in fear of troublemakers and gangs of feral youths.

They described Simon's death as a tragedy that was "waiting to happen" in an area which had been "like a bomb ready to explode" for at least six months.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

They spoke of several groups of rival gangs who spent their time drinking and fighting, including attacks on strangers.

Simon himself had been the victim of an earlier assault by five youths, while a nine-month pregnant woman had been verbally abused and attacked, and a middle-aged man badly beaten.

The police were quick to make arrests after Simon's death and six weeks ago John Reid, 16, pleaded guilty to culpable homicide.

But there is a clear need for more preventative measures in Lochend. If CCTV is to be used to deter crime it is exactly the sort of place cameras should be deployed, and they will be welcomed by those who have no reason to fear them.

CCTV is not, however, a universal panacea. For a start, cameras need to work, despite the inevitable attentions of those who do have something to hide.

At the last count, the council had 185 CCTV cameras in public places. Even at 25,000 to install, they clearly are a cheaper option than flooding the streets with police. But a snapshot earlier this year found a quarter of the cameras were out of action at any time, with a five-month wait for repairs.

This is why CCTV can only be part of a wider solution, one which includes a greater physical police presence and more efforts to help law-abiding communities stand up for themselves.

Move a Mussel

There will be some sadness if plans come to fruition which finally close the gap between Musselburgh and Edinburgh.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

As the name suggest, the Honest Toun has a proud history as an independent burgh and, of course, even today it is part of East Lothian rather than the Capital.

But the area needs housing, especially for families, and the experience of Leith shows that physical incorporation with a bigger neighbour needn't dilute the pride that locals take in their traditional communities.