Crackdown on hotspots

E Division police officer, Midlothian Council and East Lothian Council launch a two-month antisocial behaviour initiative. Pictured Inspector Hamish MacLean, Sgt Bob Innes (Midlothian Council community safety manager), Inspector Neil Simpson, Chief Superintendent Mark Williams and Kenny Black, antisocial behaviour co-ordinator with East Lothian Council.

E Division police officer, Midlothian Council and East Lothian Council launch a two-month antisocial behaviour initiative. Pictured Inspector Hamish MacLean, Sgt Bob Innes (Midlothian Council community safety manager), Inspector Neil Simpson, Chief Superintendent Mark Williams and Kenny Black, antisocial behaviour co-ordinator with East Lothian Council.

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A two-month blitz on the antisocial behaviour which blights people’s everyday lives has been launched in Midlothian.

E Division police have joined forces with Mid and East Lothian councils to target local hot spots for vandalism, graffiti, fly tipping, noise and nuisance calls, and dog fouling.

Only last week vandals set fire to an area of a community garden in Loanhead causing £2,000 worth of damage.

During the eight-week crackdown, police will be urging Midlothian residents to report instances of antisocial behaviour.

Launching the latest Operation Erase initiative, E Division commander Chief Superintendent Mark Williams said: “Time and time again people tell us these issues are a blight and they impact greatly on them.

“Although they may be classed as low-level nuisance problems, the impact they have on quality of life is disproportionate and it deserves our time and effort and that is what our communities want us to do.”

Using data gathered from community groups and councils and other police intelligence, the officers leading the initiative have been able to identify hot spots for each station area with the times antisocial behaviour is likely to occur. Based on that information, police, community action teams and council officials target key locations at particular times with additional patrols.

CS Williams said, while police were becoming “increasingly better” at solving reported incidents of antisocial behaviour, such as vandalism, they were not always informed of all crimes of this type.

“One of our pleas as part of this initiative is to get people to touch directly with the police or the council and raise any concerns about antisocial environmental damage.

“The more we know the better placed we are to deal with and direct the significant resources of the police and council,” he said.

Midlothian councillor Jim Muirhead (Lab), community safety spokesman, said: “This is a further example of our strong partnership working with the police to tackle antisocial behaviour in Midlothian. Antisocial behaviour can have a considerable negative impact on local communities. This initiative aims to provide not only a deterrent to committing these crimes but also help identify additional solutions to this problem.”

Sergeant Bob Innes, the council’s community safety manager, said many incidents could be tackled by civil legislation with the authority having the power to take forward antisocial behaviour orders or carry out interventions. Fixed penalty powers could also be used.