THE city centre community beats policing team has increased to nine officers – and not just for Christmas.
New recruits took to the streets of Inverness this week, as promised by the force, as a permanent fixture to crack down on crime in and around the retail and leisure hub.
The enhancement follows recent talks between senior officers and local business owners in the wake of a series of largely antisocial crimes that had caused concern.
Business Improvement District (Bid) has pressed for increased patrols for some time and the enlarged police team is being overseen by Inspector James Rice and Sergeant Nick Macrae, who are responsible for the daily delivery and management of police business in the area. The officers aim to provide a high visibility deterrent against crime and antisocial behaviour. They will also provide a quick response to incidents.
Inspector Rice, who has served the force in Inverness for the past 11 years, said: "We looked at our policing model and we have adjusted our own finite resources, directing them so we can have more effect."
Inverness area commander Chief Inspector Colin Gough said: "Our eight community beat officers along with Sergeant Macrae will provide reassurance to the law-abiding public and deter anyone intent on criminal behaviour.
"This is not a short-term measure. This is a sustainable solution which we feel is the best way to ensure that the centre of Inverness remains a safe place to live, to visit and to do business."
Welcoming the move, Highland Council’s city manager David Haas stressed that Inverness was already "a safe city" but that the additional resource would bolster that reputation.
Inverness Bid chairman Peter Strachan said: "Some of the traders have been unhappy.
"There’s been a fair degree of antisocial behaviour in the centre of Inverness but in my discussions with the police they’ve responded positively.
"This is a great initiative and we very much welcome this."
Last month, Chief Superintendent George MacDonald reported that, statistically, overall city centre crime was down on the rate of three years ago but he too favoured the prospect of a higher police presence.