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Academic research helps Police gauge perception of safety over festive period

Posted: 28th November 2016

Academic research helps Police gauge perception of safety over festive period

Police in Edinburgh are using academic research to get a clearer view of what makes people feel safe in Scotland’s capital during the busy festive period.

Officers within the capital have partnered with an event management academic from Queen Margaret University to carry out research into the public’s perception of safety as part of their festive policing campaign – Operation Winter City.

This year, during the holiday season, Edinburgh residents and visitors to the capital will notice a high-visibility police presence on the streets and in areas likely to see large footfall over Christmas and New Year.

Operation Winter City aims to ensure that the public feel safe as they go about their daily business and enjoy the celebrations and activities associated with Scotland’s capital city at this time of year.

Dr Rebecca Finkel, Senior Lecturer in Events Management, aims to find out if the increased visual presence of police officers at city events is actually making people feel safer. The research aims to inform and evaluate the Police response to Christmas events in Edinburgh.

Superintendent Lesley Clark from Police Scotland’s Edinburgh Division explained: “During the planning stage for Operation Winter City we decided that it was really important for us to have a base in the heart of the city centre, which allows us to engage with the public, offer crime prevention and safety advice and deter the type of criminal activity that tends to occur within busy parts of this city during this time of year.

“With our specially-built ‘grotto’ in St Andrews Square, we have provided local residents, businesses and visitors to the city with a hub by which they can come speak to us and find out everything we’re doing to keep them safe. At the same time, the grotto lets people come in and report any suspicious activity or criminal offences they have witnessed.

“Throughout the city centre there will be high-visibility police patrols deployed during key times and while we believe this will be welcomed by the public, we are really keen to get people’s views on how our presence has impacted upon them.

“In partnership with Queen Margaret University, we have devised a survey that officers will offer to those they come into contact with during their Winter City duties.

“We are really grateful to the university for its assistance and support and eagerly await the findings of the survey, which will undoubtedly help us shape how we police the city centre during next year’s festive period.”

Dr Finkel has significant expertise in large scale events across the globe but is keen to stress that this research is specifically looking at public perception of safety, rather than the actual event management of festivals in Edinburgh. She explained: “Given current global events, people’s safety at events is now one of the most significant areas of festival and event management, and it is impossible to run successful events or have a healthy tourism economy if people feel unsafe. Edinburgh is known throughout the world for its festivals, so it is especially important to understand how the city is responding to such safety imperatives.”

Dr Finkel concluded: “We are pleased to be working with Police Scotland on this important project and to be undertaking research which will help the Force establish whether a visible police presence at event locations in the city is having a positive impact on the way people feel.”



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