May 1 2009 by Jenny Wood, Perthshire Advertiser Friday
POLICE numbers on the streets of Perth have swelled as more bobbies return to the beat across six areas of the Fair City.
The Muirton, Tulloch, Letham, Craigie, Oakbank and city centre areas have all benefited from more officers, dedicated to their own patch, out pounding streets and providing additional round-the-clock cover.
This week the PA takes a look at the changes to policing the heart of Perth.
With a resident population of around 15,000 people – supplemented by hoards of shoppers, visitors, workers and evening-time revellers – the compact area at the centre of the Fair City now has 10 dedicated community crime officers.
A welcome boost from just four community officers a year ago.
Inspector Dave Barclay is the senior officer in charge of policing in Perth and explained the specific demands of the city centre with a population density of 2400 people per square kilometre.
“Issues centre around Perth being a market town. We have got a big influx of people at various times of the day and evening and have got to make that a safe environment for both shoppers and evening revellers,” he explained.
“Increasing the number of police officers provides consistent full-time coverage in town.
“The approach now is 10 full-time officers which gives far better local knowledge, officers that have intelligence about particular problem spots in the town area, they know where our vulnerable members of the community stay and any problem groups that frequent the centre.
“And we receive invaluable assistance at weekends from special constables and street pastors,” the inspector added.
The city centre beat spans both sides of the Tay taking in the shopping hub of Perth as well as leafy Kinnoull.
PC Bob Hackett
Experienced officer Bob Hackett worked extensively in the police control room and spent a number of years on the rural beat which takes in Methven.
Enjoying his present role as a community crime officer in the heart of Perth, Bob explained: “I find it refreshing being out and about in the centre.
“The centre of town is a vibrant place and at weekends we are assisted by special constables and a number of officers.
“It is great to see the safe environment we are providing for revellers.”
PC Nichola Forrester
With 16 years of police experience under her belt, Nichola Forrester joined the community crime team in September.
“I was allocated Perth City Centre with responsibility for the Bridgend area of Perth.
“Within the Bridgend area, my area of responsibility includes Murray Royal Hospital and Balnacraig School,” she explained.
And keen to forge strong links in the area, the officer added: “My role is to establish links within the local community and provide public reassurance that the police in Perth are listening to the public and endeavouring to work with partner agencies in order to provide a structure to solve issues, not only in the short term but also long term.”
PC Dave Rice
Born and bred in Perth, Dave Rice worked for the council before joining the police. He has recently completed his probationary period and said: “I have been fortunate to get a post with the police in Perth and the opportunity to work in the town centre.”
And summing up his role PC Rice said: “I am a people person and eager to ensure the centre of Perth is a safe place for all.”
PC Carol Cameron
Carol Cameron has been a familiar face in the centre of Perth for several years. She has 16 years police service and spent the last six based in Perth City Centre.
“The city centre holds a great variety of policing incidents which makes it a very interesting place to work,” she explained.
Carol works closely with city centre management and various joint initiatives including Perth Anti-Crime Exclusion (PACE) and the Best Bar None scheme.
Carol said: “Various hostels are based in the city centre and liaison is carried out on a regular basis with them.
“I have also been involved with retailers as a liaison officer and attend monthly meetings updating them on shoplifting trends and problems highlighted within Perth city centre.”
PC Lynsey Strachan
Lynsey Strachan has dedicated all of her five years’ service with the police force to the Perth area.
“During my service I have worked in most areas of Perth and am now a community crime officer within the town centre.
“I am really enjoying my new role and am looking forward to spending much more time out on foot and indeed on my bike,” she explained.
“I will be working with the community on my beat and with partnership agencies, striving towards our goal of an increased feeling of public safety within the town centre.’’
Next week: Muirton