Chief Inspector hails speed of response of eight beat officers in city centre

Police have been responding faster to crime in Inverness city centre in the first week of doubling their foot patrols, says a north chief inspector.

Eight dedicated officers have been working in the city centre since last Monday.

The change was made in the wake of various antisocial behaviour incidents going viral on social media, negatively affecting the city’s image and sparking outcry from the public and local traders.

But Chief Inspector Colin Gough said yesterday that officers have already dealt with a number of early morning shoplifting incidents and alcohol and drugs issues since the numbers were boosted from four to eight.

And on Sunday, police were praised for responding quickly after two youths climbed up onto the roof of East Church in Academy Street.

Chief Ins Gough said: “From what I see from a policing perspective, there has been a very quick and rapid response to emerging issues and prevention of criminality (in the last week). Our officers have been responding within minutes to incidents. We have seen a positive response as a result of the increase in officers.

“I do believe this plan will work and I think it will carry us through the coming years. It’s not just a short term measure.”

The eight-strong team, officially unveiled in the city’s High Street yesterday, will be overseen by Inspector James Rice and Sergeant Nick Macrae and are operating between 7am and 10pm each day.

Chief Insp Gough also believes he now has a better understanding of the range of problems affecting Inverness since he arrived from the south Highland area in June.

Key issues, he says, include mental health, substance misuse and anti-social behaviour.

Inverness City Centre BID chairman Peter Strachan also welcomed the increased foot patrols in the city centre yesterday. He said: “It’s not just for the short term up to Christmas. The force has committed these resources to the centre of Inverness and we think it will make a big difference in the long term.

“It’s really important we have a safe city centre where people can go about their daily business safely. It’s a great city and we want to keep it that way.”

Inverness Provost Helen Carmichael said: “While we know that Inverness is one of the safest cities to live, work and visit, we look forward to the outcomes of the police actions in reinforcing the safety and general well-being of all.”