City scheme praised at Scottish Policing Awards

Nick Eardley

An Edinburgh scheme established to tackle anti-social behaviour has won a top award at the Scottish Policing Awards, after a dramatic fall in crime in city centre venues.

Unight– a partnership between 45 capital bars and nightclubs won the outstanding achievement award at the event after the number of serious assaults in member was halved.

The Unight partnership won the Outstanding Achievement award

Sarah David, chair of the group and owner of Cabaret Voltaire, said:”The fact that every venue in Edinburgh has stepped up and taken ownership in trying to create a safer night-time economy for our patrons and staff is what has made Unight stand out.”

As part of the scheme, revellers banned from one  venue are subsequently banned from other member venues. information on  offenders is also shared between members.

Statistics have shown that the number of serious assaults in venues fell by 50 per cent in the first nine months of the scheme, whilst drug offences fell by 55 per cent. Overall crime outside venues was down 21 per cent in the same period.

David added: “Unight and its unique banning policy and data sharing acts as a deterrent, and I fell that this outcome is one of the resounding successes of the partnership.

“Unight are extremely please with this award which recognises the great work carried out through this unique partnership between all 45 entertainment venues, Lothian and Borders Police and the City of Edinburgh Council.”

Davis’ comments were echoed by Inspector Gordon Hunter of Lothian and Borders Police licensing department. He said: “There’s been a lot of hard work involved and it’s unusual to see such co-operation between rival businesses to achieve results.

“The fact that people can be banned from every nightclub is, in reality, quite a big stick to use. Unight has had a direct effect on reducing crime.”

Amongst other capital-based schemes which received praise at the awards were Operation Evolve, which was highly commended in the Criminal Justice and Tackling Crime category. The operation saw police work with health officials to support drug users during a crackdown on drug dealers in the Lothians.