Inverness Community Safety project provides template for Scotland
The effectiveness of an Inverness city centre Community Safety Partnership project - “Operation Respect” - has been welcomed by Members of The Highland Council’s City of Inverness Area Committee and has been described as a template for use in the rest of the Highlands and Scotland.
Leader of the City of Inverness Area Committee, Councillor Ian Brown said: “Operation Respect and the work of the Inverness Community Safety Partnership continues to provide a joint multi-agency service that promotes and enhances a safe and clean city. Early intervention by partners is key to the success of Operation Respect, by addressing potential issues before they become incidents.”
Councillor Jean Slater, Member of the Inverness Community Safety Partnership welcomed positive feedback on key Operation Respect projects including Taxi Marshalls, a Security Task Team, Safe Zones, Street Pastors, Crimestoppers and Police Scotland activities over the winter 2014/15 festive period. She said:
“Reports on the work of Operation Respect from all the partners have shown that the end results are visibly improving the safety and wellbeing for the people of Inverness and visitors to the city.”
People using the Taxi Marshall Service (provided by Inverness BID) at taxi ranks on Academy Street and Castle Wynd felt safer. Anti-social behaviour was reduced with 19 potential public order incidents diffused following intervention by Taxi Marshalls. A report on the Taxi Marshall project highlights the success and positive contributions it made to the city centre by providing public reassurance and positive perceptions of the city centre.
The economic vibrancy of the city was improved by a Security Task Team (managed by Inverness BID) that actively discouraged crimes shoplifting, pickpocketing and antisocial behaviour by increasing detection. The Task Team attended and responded to 143 incidents over the festive period and liaised with Police, retailers and licensed premises.
Public health and safety was improved by the provision of a “Safe Zone” vehicle supplied by Police Scotland in the city centre. This was used by the public for a warm-up, and safe place to assess their personal safety. The Safe Zones service was funded by NHS Highland and provided in conjunction with The Red Cross and Scottish Ambulance Service and Inverness Street Pastors. The number of admissions to Accident and Emergency were reduced by identifying people requiring assistance and offering them help at the Safe Zone. Eleven people required help, only four of which needed further referral to Raigmore Hospital.
Street Pastors have continued to reduce the need for intervention by emergency services by providing early help and diffusing situations. The pastors helped to calm aggressive behaviour and gave support to vulnerable people. Flip-flops were provided to people walking barefoot, hot drinks and food were provided in the Safe Zone vehicle, and the Street Pastors also cleared broken glass from city centre streets and taxi ranks to help avoid injury to the public and damage to taxis. Their invaluable work addresses general anti-social behaviour and they are able to connect with people who are more challenging to communicate with. Throughout the festive period Crimestoppers helped support Operation Respect through educating and informing the public of the project by advertising in local media.
Close cross service and agency communications between Police Scotland, the Street Pastors, Inverness BID Taxi Marshalls and Security Task Team actively increased community safety in Inverness city centre. People officers were deployed on foot in high visibility during Operation Respect to undertake patrols; carry out licensed premises checks; liaise locally at early stages; engage with individuals known for antisocial behaviour; and to submit intelligence reports among other activities. As a result of the success of the initiative Police Scotland are driving the Operation Respect forward in other areas of the Highlands.
Members also noted the success of another Inverness Community Safety Partnership trial project – “Inverness Response Team” – and welcomed the willingness of agencies to continue working jointly to address local public space amenity anti-social behaviour issues.
The Response Team tackles anti-social behaviour in an around residential areas within Inverness and within the city centre and public spaces. Core partners The Highland Council, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Police Scotland meet on a daily basis and include other partners on a case by case basis. Between September 2014 and January 2015 the Response Team have reviewed 346 complaints involving anti-social behaviour at 139 separate addresses in the Inverness area of which 110 issues were completely resolved and the remaining 29 issues continue to be addressed by the Response Team partnership.
Members agreed to support the work of the Inverness Response Team as it develops further. Leader Brown said:
“The Inverness Response Team is an excellent joint service that delivers resolutions mainly at first point of call to anti-social behaviour issues. By dealing with issues as soon as possible on a daily basis we can free up staff time to deliver service improvements. Working together with our partners we are making better use of staff time to deliver positive outcomes for the community.”
Chief Inspector Jennifer MacDonald added:
"The response team has been very successful in tackling issue affecting our local communities; from anti-social behaviour, noise, vandalisms and other crime that has a negative and disruptive impact on residents. By working together to act on these incidents at the very earliest opportunity, we've managed to permanently resolve over 100 issues across the city; this is an excellent result so far and we look forward to continuing this positive partnership working to keep people and communities safe.
This couldn't have happened without the full support and co-operation of all partner agencies involved so I look forward, from a local policing perspective, to building on the positive work achieved by the Inverness Response Team to date."