Community safety returns

Tuesday October 5th 2021

Midlothian Council Fairfield House Main

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Pensioners and families are living in fear in Midlothian communities because of a rise in antisocial behaviour, councillors have been told.

Midlothian councillors unanimously backed a call for more action to be taken to tackle violence and vandalism in the county.

And Councillor Colin Cassidy said the motion put forward by fellow SNP councillor Debbi McCall was the most welcome one he had heard in four years as a councillor.

He told a virtual meeting of the local authority: “I have pensioners and families in my own ward living in fear who need protection.

“We need to work with Police Scotland to bring back protection to our communities.”

Councillor McCall’s motion called for the reinstatement of community safety officers, which were disbanded in 2019, to be considered by officials and a report brought to council to look at options.

The motion said: “Whilst appropriate enforcement action should always be pursued rigorously by all partners involved, the prevention of anti social behaviour and de-escalation of antisocial behaviours could potentially save resources and distress to Midlothian residents.

“Therefore, the council will bring forward a paper to the next full council to establish a business case for investing in measures to robustly address and prevent antisocial behaviour, including an option to reinstate Community Safety Officers.”

A report to the council’s police and fire rescue board in May revealed that anti-social behaviour incidents in the county rose by 32 percent in 2020/21, although it pointed out that reports relating to potential lockdown breaches were included and contributed to the increase.

Earlier this year Lothian Buses withdrew some evening services from the county amid ongoing issues with youths.

It was later revealed police sent a decoy bus into Dalkeith to target the offenders and made four arrests over two weekends.

Midlothian Council currently funds the Midlothian Community Action Team which is made up of officers employed by Police Scotland who work locally.

Community Safety Officers are employed by the council and work alongside police patrolling communities to tackle antisocial behaviour and reduce crime.

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