Is it time to cut police funding in Edinburgh?

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The Community Cops in my Ward do a fantastic job – most recently dealing with a huge spike in house break-ins. However, it is the Scottish Government that should be funding them not the City of Edinburgh Council (report, 19/01/19).

The £2.6m the Council gives Police Scotland should be being spent on schools, social care, footpaths etc. Let’s face it, the scale of the cuts Edinburgh is facing right now at the hands of the SNP Government means that every penny counts.

Indeed, although some have been critical of Edinburgh’s SNP Councillors for failing to oppose the cuts to our capitals’s budget, the proposal to slash £500,000 from the £2.6m top-up given to Police Scotland will result in the nationalists breaking their own 2017 Manifesto pledge:

“We will provide £2.6m per year to Police Scotland to keep our communities safe. We will tackle crime and anti-social behaviour at its root by funding community police and school liaison officers to continue working hard to make our streets safe and secure”.

But why stop there, when all of the £2.6m could be used to protect our schools and and vulnerable people from these cuts? This is the decision Edinburgh is now faced with.

Many other Councils stopped topping up Police Scotland’s funding some time ago, and it is perhaps time for Edinburgh to follow them and demand the Government lives up to its pledge to fully fund policing.

Indeed, the Police Scotland spokesperson quoted in the Evening News recently  was clear that Edinburgh’s Community Cops undertake “essential” work and “these officers are utilised to investigate a range of crimes that occur within our communities”. I am sure most people would agree that this is work that should be funded by the Scottish Government.

The reality is that despite the extra £2.6m the Council provides Police Scotland, Edinburgh is not exactly a crime free city. Indeed, the Evening News recently reported (11/01/19) that the EH4 postcode area was ranked fourth in a UK wide analysis of “housebreaking hotspots“, and EH15 was ninth.

So despite the concerns I have about the money Edinburgh gives Police Scotland, I am reluctant to see all of it cut overnight without assurances from Police Scotland and the Justice Minister that our capital will get the resources it needs. That must include an allowance for the extra police work that comes with being a capital city with many consulates and civic events.

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