Safety blitz for Meadows after spate of night attacks

A MAJOR drive has been launched to improve security on the Meadows, in the wake of a series of night-time attacks.

New lighting, the installation of CCTV cameras and the stepping up of police patrols are all likely to be rolled out in the next few months.

Community groups and student organisations are to be asked to help produce ideas for a special advice leaflet, aimed at offering safe routes through the beauty spot.

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Councillors have ordered a study on how to tackle safety, security and vandalism in and around the Meadows, amid mounting fears over the safety of young people, including students.

The council has admitted the Meadows is perceived as more dangerous since the closure of the old Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

The city council's culture leader Councillor Donald Anderson said:

"We believe there are a number of measures that could be carried out to improve things, including the provision of much better lighting on some of the most-used pedestrian routes. There's no CCTV coverage in the area and we also want to see if the city centre policing team can extend their work out to the Meadows."

Concern has been mounting over the summer about gangs of up to 100 youths congregating at the area for drinking sessions. Lothian and Borders Police was forced to step up patrols following a string of complaints about fighting and vandalism from residents in Bruntsfield and Marchmont.

A young man was left with serious facial injuries after an unprovoked attack by a gang on the Meadows in July. The 21-year-old was walking alone near the bowling club on Bruntsfield Links at around 11.30pm on a Saturday night. Days later a 23-year-old student was knocked unconscious in another unprovoked attack. He was kicked and punched by three youths who demanded money.

Anne Wigglesworth, of Tollcross Community Council, said: "We believe there needs to be much more attention paid to the look of the Meadows. The level of graffiti has been bad this year and the lighting of the major through routes just isn't good enough."

John Simon, of the Friends of the Meadows group, said: "Much better lighting of the parks and through routes would make a big difference to problems with gangs congregating late at night.

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"But more needs to be done to curb problems caused by the amount of drunken people making a racket while they are walking through this area in the early hours of the morning."

Liberal Democrat councillor Marilyne MacLaren said: "We need to look at stepping up patrols during peak periods and better lighting is undoubtedly needed on the major routes, but I wouldn't be in favour of the introduction of CCTV cameras."

A spokesman for Lothian and Borders Police said: "We carry out regular patrols of the Meadows, which have been supplemented this year already by our youth action team and our safer communities unit."