Govanhill’s new top cop has warned online trolls to stop scapegoating ethnic minorities over crime.

Chief Inspector Graham McInarlin hit out at racial abuse of Roma on community websites which he described as “close to the bone”.

The 52-year-old who was “born and brought up in the south side” became the area commander last month.

His tenure began a week before Police Scotland parachuted in an additional 21 officers from its Force Flexible Policing Unit (FFPU), an offshoot of the Violence Reduction Division.

In an exclusive interview with the Evening Times, CI McInarlin denied that the special measure was due to a spike in violent crime.

He also suggested that his officers are monitoring racial tensions on Facebook pages dedicated to community campaigns.

CI McInarlin said: “The feeling that all this crime and disorder is caused by the influx in Roma into Govanhill just isn’t the case at all.

“We do record ethnicity by way of victims and accused persons and, despite the rumours and suspicion, we can’t point the finger at the Roma.

“You see them standing on the corner but they are not actually doing anything. I think the problem is that local people who have lived there all of their lives are threatened.

“I think we really need to be careful and sensitive around that. The last thing we want to do is start a race or ethnicity war around about that.

“Some of these Facebook accounts are close to the bone and I think they need to be very careful about the language they are using.”

CI McInarlin has previously been local area commander for Pollok, Maryhill and Edinburgh’s west end.

He admits that taking over policing in Govanhill has been a “steep learning curve” and is “grateful” for the backing of the FFPU.

He said: “The deployment was agreed just before I came here. Chief Superintendent Andy Bates decided that, given the concern we’ve had from people who live, work and travel through Govanhill, Police Scotland simply had to react to those raised concerns about this increased fear of crime.

“So, we have 21 additional police officers working over a shift pattern but ring-fenced into Govanhill. That is crucial to us because they are dedicated to that area and remain in that area despite what’s happening anywhere else in Glasgow.

“The FFPU is here to address the high tension over the last few months. What we’re trying to do is increase visibility and restore confidence so that people can go about their business.”

When asked to explain the “increased fear of crime” CI McInarlin brings up two high profile cases where pensioners were targeted.

The first was in July when a 73-year-old woman had her necklace ripped off as she walked along Alison Street.

Then, last month, a 76-year old man was assaulted and robbed of £40 in Govanhill Park.

Police are still hunting for the thugs who attacked both pensioners.

CI McInarlin said: “Often with chat rooms and everything else you start getting the type of feedback that things in Govanhill are not right and that may well be as a result of one or two of what I would call critical incidents. It doesn’t need to be volume. It just needs to be one or two, and we’ve had that.

“Here’s the problem, we have two elderly people robbed and that’s enough for people to say it’s out of control.

“Now if you look at various crime groups over the last five years and see that they are decreasing, I don’t think that matters to people in Govanhill if you have a couple of critical crimes.

“The stats are actually showing a slight decrease in crimes of dishonesty, crimes of indecency and crimes of violence. Public reporting of antisocial behaviour has also dropped.

“The one that is sticking out, and I think this is important, there has been an increase in housebreakings over April to July this year and I think that’s the reason we put the FFPU in there.”

Govanhill will soon have state-of-the-art CCTV cameras carrying out 24-hour surveillance of crime hot spots.

CI McInarlin is hopeful that these will also provide reassurance to residents.

“We’ll have seven cameras strategically positioned. They will be going live in a few weeks and it’s long overdue. I hope it’s going to have some impact of trust and confidence.”