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Police / Funding for police housing projects halted

Photo: Shetland News

FUNDING for police housing projects in Shetland has been halted for the time being due to wider budgetary challenges, a meeting has heard.

Shetland area commander Stuart Clemenson told a meeting of the local community safety and resilience board on Wednesday that the situation was a “challenge”.

Clemenson said in the last 18 to 24 months Police Scotland has spent £1.7 million on projects relating to accommodation for officers in Shetland.

He said around half of the police’s houses in Shetland have now been brought up to an “exceptional standard”.

The chief inspector told the meeting that this has involved taking some houses back to their shell at a “significant cost”.

He used the example of a three bedroom council house worth £180,000 to £200,000 which the police has invested £250,000 in to substantially upgrade.

However, Clemenson said the programme had changed somewhat – with the plan shifting to the police looking at buying more new build homes instead and sell off existing properties.

He said the force had bought a three bedroom property north of Lerwick for just over £300,000.

However, Clemenson said: “The funding for this year has unfortunately been halted because of all the budgetary constraints across the organisation.

“It’s a challenge – we won’t be able to start investing until we get the funding.”

Work remains ongoing in refurbishing the accommodation building within the Lerwick Police Station site, which will feature five rooms.

He said this will help to save on hotel costs when Police Scotland is bringing up staff from south.

NEW figures presented by the police show that drug possession crime figures have risen significantly in recent years.

For April to December 2023 the number of drug possession crimes detected was 122, but the figure for the previous year was 72.

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Clemenson felt the context was that more crimes are being detected by police and that the actual quantity of drugs coming into Shetland has “flatlined”.

Meanwhile the work of Dogs Against Drugs was praised again by the board.

The police report showed that in the previous two years the charity has been responsible for the recovery of drugs worth more than £1 million.

Board chairman councillor Allison Duncan also praised the campaign being run by local newspaper The Shetland Times for more funding for Dogs Against Drugs.

ONLY one crime has been recorded in Shetland under new hate crime legislation since it was introduced earlier this year.

Wednesday’s community safety and resilience board meeting heard that the matter is still under investigation.

The Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act 2021 was implemented in Scotland on 1 April.

The Scottish Government said this introduces new offences for threatening or abusive behaviour which is intended to stir up hatred based on prejudice towards characteristics including age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity and variations in sex characteristics.

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