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City centre police patrols to double by end of the month

By Philip Murray

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POLICE are to double their officers in Inverness city centre to stamp out criminal behaviour before it spreads to other parts of the Highland capital.

The number of beat officers in the heart of the city will rise from four to eight by the end of the month, after the area’s top cop warned "if we lose control of the city centre we will lose control of wider Inverness and the rest of the Highlands".

His stark warning follows a spate of antisocial behaviour this summer which has shocked city residents.

Earlier this month footage of a brawl in Bridge Street, in which someone was thrown against a moving vehicle, was viewed more than 350,000 times on Facebook before it was removed. Other recent videos included drunken men fighting in the street in the middle of the day.

Another depicted a drunk man being rescued from the River Ness and a third involved a man who was so drunk he tried to use a bridge railing as a cash machine.

Fears over public safety were also raised after a woman was robbed and another was the victim of an attempted mugging in the space of four days in August.

Announcing the increase in foot patrols at yesterday’s city of Inverness area committee, Inverness area commander Colin Gough said he wanted more boots "on the ground" before crime and antisocial behaviour permanently damaged the city’s reputation.

"Having seen some of the footage on social media, which has been viewed by hundreds of thousands of people across the globe, it is not great for the reputation of the capital of the Highlands," he told the chamber.

"I have to put a sustainable model in place through resource realignment. If we lose control of the city centre we will lose control of wider Inverness and the rest of the Highlands.

"I have four [community beat officers in the city centre] at the moment so I will double that to eight so I have boots on the ground.

"They may have to be drawn away if there is a more pressing need at times."

Inverness Provost Helen Carmichael has welcomed the tough new crackdown.

She said: "This is good news. We have been assured that the city centre will get the intention attention it deserves.

"I feel more confident today than I have for quite some time."

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