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Police crack down on town centre violence

Chief inspector Angus Macinnes

ANYONE who gets involved in Lerwick town centre violence will be caught and end up in the cells, the local police chief has warned.

Chief inspector Angus MacInnes was speaking after a weekend which saw one woman taken to hospital with head injuries after being assaulted at Posers nightclub in the early hours of Sunday morning. The police are seeking witnesses to that incident.

His comments followed Sheriff Philip Mann saying last week that it was only a matter of time before the “fighting and thuggery” in the town led to someone being seriously injured.

The area commander said three people spent the night in the cells to sober up over the weekend after drunken incidents, which lmost ended up in violence.

MacInnes said that while overall crime in Shetland had fallen by 16 per cent in the past year, last July saw a spike in violence with 20 incidents reported to the police.

“That might not be much in Glasgow or Dundee, but for Shetland it’s a lot,” he said.

Having established that most of the violence involved people who had been drinking alcohol, taking illegal drugs or synthetic highs in or near Lerwick pubs, the local police force has stepped up checks on licensed premises.

The chief inspector said the high profile policing has had an impact and would continue.

Checks have risen from 63 during April 2012 to 512 in December, a month which normally sees a spike in violent incidents as more people are out at night.

The number of violent incidents rose from 13 last April to 20 in July, since when they fell to eight in October, nine in November, 13 in December and 12 in January.

“There was a peak last year, but things have dropped off considerably and we want to make sure they keep coming down,” MacInnes said.

“We are going to do even more checks because if July last year was a spike we don’t want July this year to be.”

He added that very few weapons were used in the incidents, which mostly involved punching and kicking.

Out of 123 violent incidents, 18 were classed as serious. Of those 17 were detected and the 18th will be detected within the next two weeks, MacInnes claimed.

He said that the recent introduction of CCTV cameras in Lerwick town centre had impacted on the level of street crime, but warned that there were still “nooks and crannies” where incidents could take place undetected.

“Shetland is a really safe place. Vandalism and theft are down, and we want to see the same thing happen with violent crime.

“People should be able to go out and have fun without worrying about getting hurt.”