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Police / Early intervention key to good policing – says new police chief

SHETLAND’s new police chief says an approach of early intervention and visible policing throughout the isles is paying first dividends.

Chief inspector Stuart Clemenson took up the post of area commander at the end of January and people have already been commenting that officers appear to be seen out and about more regularly.

He highlighted that five drink drivers had been taken off the roads over recent weeks, some of them in the North Isles, including Fetlar.

Police officers waiting for passengers to disembark the NorthLink ferry earlier this month. Photos: Police Scotland

Clemenson said visibility and putting out the message to the small percentage of the population police are regularly interacting with had been the thinking behind turning up at the Holmsgarth ferry terminal with five officers in four vehicles to intercept a couple carrying a small amount of cannabis.

The chief inspector said disrupting the drugs trade was one of the force’s main priorities as demonstrated by drug hauls made at Sumburgh Airport in January and also last month.

He said the dogs provided the local Dogs Against Drugs charity are being used almost daily to regularly intercept parcels containing controlled substances.

Eyebrows were raised earlier in February when the local police force let it be known that any “incidents of criminality” as folk watched the Old Firm match in licensed premises would be dealt with “robustly”.

Clemenson said the message was entirely targeted at the construction workers building the Viking wind farm and associated infrastructure.

Police had received intelligence of likely disturbances in a number of pubs in the North Mainland as up to 200 workers were planning to watch the Old Firm match, he said.

“We have a finite amount of resources here, we couldn’t turn up to a full scale fight in the middle of a pub,” the area commander said.

“I will not put my officers to that level risk, and we don’t have any back-up.

“Additional officers were on that night – we highlighted it in the press, it was targeted at a specific area on the island to the few premises where we expected disturbances.”

Chief inspector Stuart Clemenson.

Clemenson said he was satisfied with the response, adding that there were a few “outbreaks of passions running high” but generally the approach “really helped and it stopped it”.

He praised BAM Nuttall, the main contractor building the HVDC transmission link, for fully supporting the police’s approach to public order in a small rural community such as Shetland.

“We have had problems with the wind farm workers,” he said but with early intervention – “we spoke to around 150 of them in two ‘stadium’ events” – things have quietened down and people seem to have taken the message on board.

“We highlighted that their actions in a community like this could be seen as worse than what they actually are,” Clemenson said.

“The management team told them to ‘look [out] when you are at Tesco or the Co-op, and there is a member of the public, you stand right back’, because it is quite intimidating [to be confronted with] four or five big guys in yellow jackets.

“That’s three/four weeks ago now and we have had no calls up there whatsoever, so that – hopefully – just nipped it in the bud, but we will revisit it as time goes on.”