Issued by Northern Constabulary
Northern Constabulary today formally signed a new memo of understanding with a voluntary group of 4x4 drivers who are prepared to assist officers during the winter months.
The Force has teamed up with the Highland 4x4 Response Group who will provide 4x4 vehicles and drivers to Police when required.
The group have agreed to provide additional 4x4 support, where Police provision is fully utilised elsewhere and they will be able to reach remote or difficult to access locations.
This service will greatly increase community resilience and could provide potentially life saving assistance to vulnerable groups or isolated communities.
This agreement boosts the response to communities at very little cost, with fuel being the only outlay.
Sergeant Robbie MacDonald of the Force's Emergency Planning Unit, said: "Clearly winter weather can throw up a number of logisitcal problems for Police and the support being given by the Highland 4x4 Response Group is warmly welcomed and will, no doubt, prove to be a valuable resource in the coming weeks and months.
"They are providing training for their drivers, organising their own insurance and maintenance costs and basically providing us with an out of the box service, which will be of great benefit to our communities."
He added: "The group approached us earlier this year and offered their services. We then drew up a formal agreement and this is what we are pleased to be signing off today."
The service could potentially be used to get Police search officers to hard to reach areas during searches for missing people, to check on vulnerable people in remote locations, to deliver food or fuel for those cut off due to the weather, to get key staff into work and a whole host of other operationally linked activities.
Highland 4x4 Response Group Co-ordinator, Andrew Knox from Alness, said: "We will be able to take Police officers to places they might not be able to get to in bad weather and it is also very rewarding to be able to help people who may be vulnerable during the winter months."
The agreement will provide cover, where possible, across the Highland mainland, with volunteers based at a variety of locations across the region.
Their are currently a number of affiliated 4x4 drivers who operate between Durness and Dalwhinnie, Drumnadrochit and Inverness and Alness. The group are currently in discussions with two drivers in the Caithness and Sutherland area and it is hoped they will sign up soon.