Published: 05/12/2017 19:00 - Updated: 04/12/2017 16:25

Initiative aims to bring goodwill and safety to all in the city centre

Written byNicole Webber

 

Operation Respect
Operation Respect sees a range of organisations working together in the city centre.

POLICE have issued a warning to anyone tempted to shoplift or otherwise misbehave in the city centre in the run-up to Christmas.

Sergeant Nick MacRae of the Inverness city centre policing team said: "If you shoplift in Inverness city centre we will catch you.

"It is not worth it. If you get caught then you are going to end up in court – and in the city centre of Inverness you will get caught."

Sgt MacRae was speaking during the launch of the seasonal strand of Operation Respect, a multi-agency initiative that aims to tackle antisocial behaviour, alcohol and substance misuse and other associated criminality in the city centre.

"We are being very proactive with the shoplifting in Inverness," he added.

The "Shopsafe" radio system connects police directly to participating shops in the area.

"It means we can listen in to what is going on in the city centre and react immediately," he said.

"They are shouting us on Shopsafe, giving us the description [of suspects], and because my guys are on the street at that time they are arresting them there and then. We have had some great results."

As well as catching and deterring wrongdoers, Operation Respect also aims to make sure people feel safe when they are out and about over the festive period, with part of this coming in the form of increased police patrols.

Sgt MacRae said that, at times, three patrols consisting of two officers each will be jointly out and about in the area. 

As part of Operation Respect police will also be supported by members of the British Red Cross, Inverness Street Pastors, Inverness Business Improvement District’s (Bid) task team and Highland Council.

Provost Helen Carmichael was at the launch event last week too and said: "I think Operation Respect is essential now in the city centre – the police, Highland Council, Bid and everyone working together.

"I am seeing a difference already. People are saying to me there is a difference."

Like the police the Bid task force also has direct radio connections to businesses, which team member Garry Munro said allowed them to respond to situations quickly.

However he added that a big part of his team’s role was to make sure people stayed safe .

"We do taxi marshalling as well on a Friday and Saturday night from midnight until 4am and our role there is to ensure that everyone is safe and to get them home in a safe manner," he said. "Taxis are safer than walking in this weather."

This year will be the 10th Christmas that the voluntary Inverness Street Pastors group will also be out providing revellers in need someone to talk to and a place to go if they become lost or distressed during a night out.

The organisation’s Mark Hadfield said he felt the partnership approach was definitely having an impact.

"The biggest change I have seen in the city is that the nights are a lot quieter than they used to be," he said.

"It is a lot more peaceful, so I would say that the partnership is working."

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