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Not all blues and twos for Inverness police, says area commander Chief Inspector Judy Hill

By Alan Shields

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Chief Inspector Judy Hill, Inverness Area Command, Burnett Road Police Station, Inverness. Picture: Callum Mackay..
Chief Inspector Judy Hill, Inverness Area Command, Burnett Road Police Station, Inverness. Picture: Callum Mackay..

Policing Inverness can be a tough beat.

From assaults, frauds, serious and organised crime, drunken misbehaviour and road traffic incidents, officers from the Highland Capital have to deal with many challenges on a daily basis.

But Police Scotland is not just a reactionary force.

Work goes on behind the scenes on a variety of schemes designed to make life better for the general public, area commander Chief Inspector Judy Hill explained to the Inverness Courier during an exclusive interview.

That can range from working out why a person has offended and how to stop it happening again, to helping those who have found themselves on the wrong side of the law for a huge variety of reasons – not all of them obvious.

Ch Insp Hill said: “We do a lot of work with the third sector. One of the projects we’ve got running just now is the custody link project which is being funded by the National Lottery and the Robertson Trust and partly by the community justice partnership as well.

“The custody link team who are based in the building next to the custody centre will engage with people who are coming into custody.

“We’ve got a set criteria for that – it will be certain people. Maybe someone who has offended more than once in the past six months or someone who has come into custody for the very first time and all females and certain age groups.

“If they met the criteria we will then see if they want a referral to the custody link team who will then engage with them.

“What the key thing is for us is that they will continue to work with them when they are back in the community.”

Ch Insp Hill said they were finding more and more that people who come into contact with the police often have “complex needs”.

For example, she said: “They might be offending because something has gone wrong in their lives.

“Someone might be drinking heavily and get done for drink-driving.

“But if you scratch the surface of that they might have had a relationship breakdown or they are in financial difficulty – or something is leading to that offending behaviour.

“The custody link team can actually work with them to solve some of those issues for them.

“And what they are saying is that people are actually needing signposted to multiple services.

“They might have an addiction problem, they might have financial difficulties or they might have housing issues but the good thing is that these are being brought together and managing to get them into the right places.

“The idea is that we are improving outcomes and stopping that revolving door of custody.

“We know that there is that cycle and the further in you get, the harder it is to get out again.”

Another project for which the division has been praised for is taking part in a Scottish Government pilot called the distress brief intervention service.

Ch Insp Hill said: “That allows us to refer people who are in distress, not necessarily coming into custody, just in distress.

“We can refer them to the distress brief intervention service and they will get a response from them within 24 hours of that referral going in, seven days a week.

“They will then get 14 consecutive days of support, where they will develop their own distress management plan but they will also get support into other services.”

Ch Insp Hill said it is the way of modern policing.

She added: “We are all thinking a lot more about prevention rather than just us dealing with it. “

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