Published: 22/02/2018 16:30 - Updated: 22/02/2018 16:15

City centre initiative hailed as a success

Written byEmma Crichton

 

Operation Respect
Operation Respect was a multi-team initiative during the festive season.

A MULTI-agency approach to tackling crime and disorder has made people feel safer, police have said.

Evidence from the group initiative Operation Respect, which aims to tackle crime and disorder over the festive season, has paid dividends, according to a new report.

The operation focused on the busiest parts of Inverness city centre, where revellers flocked during the festivities, and a taskforce of police, taxi marshalls, street pastors, British Red Cross volunteers and Inverness Business Improvement District (Bid) staff worked together to target crime.

Inverness area commander, Chief Inspector Colin Gough, hailed Operation Respect, now in its ninth year, as a success, particularly through increased visibility of police and the increase of city centre dedicated officers from four to nine.

He said in the report: "Operation Respect festive 2017 actively increased public reassurance and enhanced police visibility and an improved pro-active approach by officers in dealing with antisocial behaviour, disturbance, shoplifting, drugs and general criminality.

"Embedded communications between police, the Bid task team, taxi marshalls, street pastors and the British Red Cross provided an enhanced environment for the public throughout the festive period."

The statistics from December 1 and January 2 show there was an eight per cent increase in incidents compared to last year but this was 16 per cent fewer than the five-year average.

The most common crimes were drug-related, with 45 recorded incidents, followed by disorder (39), assault (29) and shoplifting (22). Another 24 fixed penalties were dished out for antisocial behaviour.

Most incidents happened outdoors, with Academy Street, Church Street, Bank Street, High Street and Baron Taylor’s Street attracting the most trouble.

The peak times for incidents were Friday and Saturday nights, between midnight and 4am.

Crimes inside licensed premises mostly related to drugs, followed by disorder and assault.

Chief Insp Gough praised bar staff for their support in catching criminals.

"Repeat locations have been identified and we continue to engage with business owners and managers," he said.

"A number of incidents brought to the attention of police were due to the vigilance of staff."

A "safe zone", funded by NHS Highland was managed by street pastors and British Red Cross volunteers to help anyone in distress and to allow people to find friends they were split from.

It was so well-used that it will continue to be operated on a monthly basis through 2018.

This comes after 31 injured people were treated during the festive period, compared to nine the previous year.

It will be in use on Saturdays during pay weekends, according to the report.

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