Multi- agency partners provide support to annual festive safety initiative, Operation Respect
With the approach of the festive season, multi-agency partners have once again joined forces to support Operation Respect with the aim of making the streets of Inverness safer for shoppers and party goers, both day and night, during the festive season.
Supported by Inverness Community Safety Partnership and the Operation Respect multi-agency group, the city will see increased high visibility police patrols, as well as the use of Inverness Business Improvement District (BID) Security Task Team members and Taxi Marshals, the British Red Cross and Inverness Street Pastors. In addition to increased evening patrols around licensed premises and taxi ranks, there will also be a focus on the security and safety of shoppers and businesses, with plain clothes officers proactively targeting those involved in shoplifting both in the city centre and the retail parks.
On Friday, 19 December, the national Police Scotland initiative Campaign Against Violence, will support Operation Respect with an increased police presence across the city and adjoining areas, tackling issues such as anti-social behaviour, alcohol and drugs misuse and associated criminality.
Inspector Anne Urquhart, Inverness Community Beat Unit, who is urging people to drink responsibly and act respectfully towards others, said: "At this time of year, many people may have a few more drinks than they would normally have on a night out and they should take care not to become involved in confrontations which could result in serious consequences.
“Christmas is a time to celebrate and have fun but for some it can provide opportunity to take advantage of those who are vulnerable and susceptible to crime.
"Police Scotland is once again delighted to work with our key partners to ensure that people gain the maximum enjoyment from the city over the next few weeks and remain safe in doing so.
“This year's campaign will also be supported by the newly formed Inverness Multi Agency Response Team, a range of community safety partners who work together on a daily basis to address anti social behaviour in the community."
Inspector Urquhart added: “Over the next few weeks, Police Scotland and our partners will broadcast a range of personal safety messages and we will use our social media capability to keep these messages relevant and current".
Leader of the City of Inverness Area, Councillor Ian Brown said: “We want locals and visitors to Inverness to enjoy their festive experiences in the Capital of the Highlands whether that is for shopping, business or leisure.
“Operation Respect is a proven partnership project that helps folks to celebrate and return home safely and we look forward to another season of good will among all.”
Malcolm Raeburn, Community Safety Manager, Inverness BID said: "Inverness Business Improvement District is pleased to once again be an integral part of Operation Respect.
"This year with the additional daytime focus of the Operation, the deployment of our BID Security Task Team will contribute to maintaining a safe and secure city centre for business, their customers, staff and visitors. Our Taxi Marshals will assist in ensuring that the public get home safely after their night out."
Jim Ferguson, Chair of the Inverness Community Safety Partnership said: "The Inverness Community Safety Partnership is pleased to see Operation Respect and all the partners gearing up for another busy festive season. Past results show how effective it has been and we are delighted to be a part of this endeavour, keeping the people of Inverness safe."
Lauren Mackay, Event First Aid Coordinator for Northern Scotland, British Red Cross said: “The Red Cross wants everybody to have a great time during the festive season and to be safe while they celebrate. That is why our first aid volunteers will be out and about the weekends of 19th, 20th & 26th, 27th December, to provide help to anyone who needs it.
“Accidents happen and sometimes people become a bit vulnerable when they are enjoying a night on the town. We will be there, supporting the Scottish Ambulance Service and the NHS, providing whatever assistance is needed."
Mark Hadfield, Night-time Activities Coordinator for Inverness Street Pastors said: "Operation Respect is about increasing effectiveness by working together in partnership and we are excited about a number of developments this festive period.
"Street Pastors will be at The Red Hot Highland Fling in the Northern Meeting Park on Hogmanay in addition to our usual late-night city centre patrols. We will also be staffing a Safe Zone in the city centre on key nights. This is a repurposed vehicle on loan from Police Scotland that is heated and has comfortable café-style seating. People can warm-up over a cup of hot chocolate, take a break from partying, or agree beforehand to regroup with friends if they become separated.
"We will be parked up next to a British Red Cross Treatment Centre Bus on Church Street. Do come and say "Hello!" to us and to the Red Cross volunteers."