POLICE and partners today (02 December 2011) joined forces to launch Operation Respect, an initiative aimed at creating a safer and cleaner Inverness for people, families and businesses over the festive period.
The initiative, which is co-ordinated by the Inverness Community Safety Partnership, is now in its fourth year and will see increased police patrols, taxi marshals, Security Task Team, British Red Cross patrols and Street Pastors working together during December.
In conjunction with Stagecoach, and building on the success of last year, the operation will again be providing a low-cost 'Night Bus' service, which begins tonight (02 December 2011). The service will run every Friday and Saturday night between 1130pm and 4am until 23 December and then again on Friday 30 December 2011. The buses will leave from Queensgate and go to Smithton, Culloden, Balloch, Westhill, Kinmylies, Hilton and Merkinch.
A number of businesses and organisations are involved in the preparation for Operation Respect including, Highland Council, Crimestoppers, Inverness Crime Prevention Panel (ICPP), Inverness Business Improvement District (BID), Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA), British Red Cross, Inverness Taxi Association, Pubwatch, Street Pastors and Northern Constabulary.
Jim Ferguson, Inverness Community Safety Partnership chairman, said:“The Inverness Community Safety Partnership is delighted to lead on Operation Respect with our partners to help engender respect across the city. The Partnership has been working hard on many issues relating to community safety and we would like everyone to enjoy the festivities and to remember to stay safe while looking after each other.”
Taking the leading for Northern Constabulary is Inspector Stephen Davren.
He said: "Operation Respect has been running for several years now and is a good example of what can be achieved through effective partnership working. Northern Constabulary is committed to ensuring that people can shop or enjoy a night out in an environment that is safe and crime free. During the festive period we have increased officer patrols to provide public reassurance, deter crime and robustly deal with those who are breaking the law. These patrols will be targeted at peak shopping and socialising times.
“The ‘Night bus’ service worked well last year and is another option for people travelling home after a night out. Those involved in Operation Respect are committed to its success, but I would also like to stress the personal responsibility of the public during this time. By doing simple things such as planning your journeys, looking after your friends, and drinking responsibly, you can ensure a safe, enjoyable time in the Highland's capital.”
British Red Cross Central District Services Manager, Andrew Maclean, said: “The British Red Cross is delighted to once again participate in Operation Respect which we recognise as a good humanitarian initiative involving partnership working.
We are keen to make a contribution to the aim of Operation Respect and will be supporting our partners by putting personnel on duty within Inverness town centre during the weekends of the festive period. These personnel are volunteers and we are thankful to them for giving of their own valuable time to support the work of the British Red Cross.
Our contribution will include deploying fully trained first aiders and Red Cross ambulance crew. This will enable us to support the Police and Ambulance service in dealing with any potential incidents where medical attention is required. By doing this we will hopefully reduce the pressure on the ambulance service and emergency department at Raigmore Hospital at this time of year.”
Operation Respect doesn’t just focus on safety in the evenings. With the use of the Security Task Team the partnership aims to improve personal safety for shoppers and shop owners during the day. Pubwatch aims to improve safety in the evenings.
Mike Smith, manager of the Inverness Business Improvement District, commented: “Inverness Business Improvement District is delighted to be an integral part of Operation Respect. We believe that the deployment of the Security Task Team and Taxi Marshals contribute to our commitment to maintain a safe and secure City Centre for customers, staff and visitors to Inverness in which business can thrive.”
Depute Provost, and Highland Licensing Board Chairman, Councillor Peter Corbett said: “I am delighted to see Operation Respect in the city centre again this year. During the festive period people want to enjoy themselves and to do it safely and return home safely. Operation Respect will deliver that.”