Christmas presence reduces crime rate in the city centre

The Edinburgh Community Safety Partnership, The City of Edinburgh Council, Lothian and Borders Police and British Transport Police are celebrating the success of joining forces throughout December for the third year of 'Operation Astrodome'.

The crime rate dropped by 29 percent in the city centre during December 2009 when compared with averages for the same period over the last 3 years. The success of this initiative can be attributed to the extra resources deployed to ensure that residents and visitors could enjoy the night-time festivities in the city centre as safely as possible.

A package of partnership measures were put in place in the city centre throughout the festive season. This focussed on a range of initiatives to: combat alcohol-related violence and disorder; help people get home safely after a night out and bolster public reassurance through a highly visible presence.

Approximately 88 litres of alcohol were seized from under-18's. The majority of alcohol was seized at the beginning of the operation and the number of alcohol seizures decreased towards the end of December and the beginning of January. Officers from Lothian and Borders Police and Environmental Wardens made regular patrols of 'hot spot' areas throughout the duration of Operation Astrodome.  

Compared to last year, the number of minor assaults in the city centre dropped throughout the festive period, and the number of Fixed Penalty Notices issued increased demonstrating a more proactive approach to combating anti-social behaviour.

High visibility patrols at the Winter Wonderland attraction and in the city centre were supplemented by Community Safety staff and extended coverage from the mobile CCTV unit.

A new information sharing initiative to combat shoplifting, Check-Out, also had significant impact, with more offenders being caught by police and security staff.

This is the second year that joint patrols at night were possible thanks to the introduction of night-time working for the Environmental Wardens. In addition to their core Environmental Warden duties the officers assisted the operation by patrolling remote/isolated areas and assisting with city centre dispersal. The presence of Environmental Wardens also acted as a deterrent and helped reduce the level of crime and antisocial behaviour in the city centre.

Bus passengers and drivers also hailed the success of transport initiatives in which Lothian and Borders Police and LRT Route Managers undertook gateway checks on buses entering the city centre at main arterial routes to monitor youth disorder on public transport.

British Transport Police (BTP) conducted nearly 300 safe journey inspections and made one arrest in connection with shoplifting.

Licensing Standards Officers' and Police Officers from the Edinburgh Licensing Standards Initiative made over 400 visits to clubs and off sales premises which were well received by traders and licensees. They were very pleased with the majority of licensed premises as they were working effectively with police in reporting incidents of young people trying to purchase alcohol.

The presence of Transport Marshals to monitor six key taxi ranks alongside Lothian and Borders Police in the city centre was welcomed by many members of the public. This initiative was introduced three years ago on a smaller scale but has proved so popular it has been extended and has been hailed by taxi drivers and the public alike as very helpful.

Overall, it was judged that the excellent partnership working had resulted in a noticeable and positive difference in the conduct of people within the city centre.

Councillor Paul Edie, Community Safety Leader said: "I am delighted to hear that this initiative has once more had a significant impact on the crime rate. Prevention is also key to this type of initiative, and I'm sure the highly visible presence of both Police and Community and Environmental Wardens prevented a great number of antisocial and alcohol related offences. I'd like to thank all the staff who worked over the period to ensure everyone was able to enjoy the city's festivities."

Superintendent Mark Williams from Lothian and Borders Police said "I am delighted that Operation Astrodome has proved to be such a success for the third year running.

 "The benefits of partnership working are clear to see and I am encouraged by these figures that show a considerable drop in recorded crime across the city centre throughout December.

"In addition to our highly successful preventative efforts we have also seen the highest number of fixed penalty tickets issued since the start of the initiative highlighting our proactive approach to tackling disorder and anti-social behaviour across the City."

 "Officers and staff from partner agencies worked incredibly hard throughout Operation Astrodome, however I would also like to thank the public for their cooperation in making Edinburgh city centre a safe and enjoyable place to enjoy the festive season."

Inspector Sue Maxwell, officer in charge of the east sector of British Transport Police, said: "The results from Operation Astrodome speak for themselves. During an Operation Shield undertaken in conjunction with our colleagues at Lothian and Borders Police, no offensive weapons were found on any of the hundreds of young people stopped and searched after being invited to be scanned through portable metal detectors. British Transport Police officers are pleased to have been working with our partners in Lothian and Borders Police, City of Edinburgh Council , train operators and Network Rail to ensure that visitors to the City Centre during the festive period enjoyed the experience safely."

Notes to Editors

Crime rate (groups 1- 4) 

Month of December 2009 - 468

Three year average month of December (2006/07/08) - 704

Reduction - 206 = 29%

The Edinburgh Community Safety Partnership is responsible for co-ordinating a joint agency response to community safety issues across the city. The lead agencies in the Partnership are Lothian and Borders Police, Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service and City of Edinburgh Council . For more info http://www.saferedinburgh.org.uk/

The City of Edinburgh Council Services for Communities department focuses on delivering better services to communities across the city, thereby improving everyone's quality of life.

Check-Out is a Retail crime sector information sharing system set up as a partnership between Essential Edinburgh and Lothian and Borders Police. It is an information sharing system that offers a unique approach to detecting and reducing retail crime within the centre of Edinburgh .

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