Police being recruited
Moves have been made to plug police vacancies in the isles with news that a total of eight posts will soon be filled.
Two serving officers and and six probationers are due to begin service in Shetland.
The announcement was made at Wednesday’s meeting of the Shetland community safety and resilience board by Police Scotland assistant chief constable Campbell Thomson.
It comes as Shetland’s outgoing chief inspector Angus MacInnes prepares to take a new post as a superintendent covering the Lothians and Borders.
The board meeting was one of Mr MacInnes’ last duties before his departure tomorrow.
Exactly who becomes Shetland’s next permanent area commander has still to be decided. But inspector Eddie Graham – who police say has a wide range of experience working in the isles – will be acting area commander.
The service here will also be supported by former detective sergeant Lindsay Tulloch, who will serve as an inspector in Lerwick following a spell away from the isles.
Mr Thomson said: “There will be two serving officers transferring up – they were up last week and met [inspector] Eddie [Graham]. There are three probationers in line to come and one further in July, with two further in the pipeline.”
The news came as board chairman Alastair Cooper called for Shetland to gain officers with “a depth of experience”.
He said it was crucial for time-served officers to help boost resilience “when the last plane has gone and the boat has sailed”.
Mr Cooper referred to last year’s helicopter tragedy off Sumburgh, and said Mr MacInnes had to “hold the fort with a gold command situation for almost 24 hours” before specialist officers were brought up from down south.
Despite recent shortages in staff numbers the meeting heard Shetland’s detection rate continues to be high, although Mr MacInnes highlighted a 15 per cent increase in domestic abuse cases during an account of the local police service over the last few months.
“That’s a good thing,” he said, “because I’m sure there’s more domestic abuse than we know about.”
Speeding drivers, drink driving and motorists who take to the road in the dark without having their lights on were also discussed.
Mr MacInnes pointed to recent high-profile speeding cases, one of which saw a motorist drive at 120mph. That, he said, was “entirely unacceptable”. And he insisted the police were addressing community concerns rather than trying to meet targets.
During the meeting road safety advisory panel chairman Michael Stout reiterated his calls for a change in mindset to incidents of bad driving, such as motorists who take to the road without a full set of working lights.
In general, Mr MacInnes said 67 per cent of crime in the isles was alcohol-related. Drink-driving cases had reduced although the number of motorists who were breathalysed had risen slightly.
Mr Cooper led tributes to the outgoing chief inspector. “Angus has been very good at actively engaging with the community and being very much part of the community, both socially and operationally,” said.
“I want to build on what he has done, but I want the service to recognise we want more than just a cop here in Shetland. We need somebody to do all the things and be part of the community.”
Mr Cooper’s comments were backed by Allison Duncan, who said he had been glad to hear of Mr MacInnes’ promotion, but on the other hand saddened to be “missing a good man”.
Earlier, Jonathan Wills paid tribute to initiatives introduced by Mr MacInnes, including a mobile police unit and “entirely non-threatening” visits to licensed premises.
Speaking before the meeting, Mr MacInnes said the local community and officers had made the job worthwhile.
“This is my second time here. I was in 2009 for four or five months. That was on a fairly quick transfer. This time, when I came in 2011, I knew a job was coming up and I applied for it.
“It’s an excellent place to live and work. It has its challenges. But there are really good people in
the station, it’s a very involved community.
“So, I’ve enjoyed my time here, and if anybody in Police Scotland who wants to be developed in a unique working environment, this is the place to come to.
“Eddie Graham is going to fill in on a temporary basis. And then they will run some form of national promotion process from inspector to chief inspector.
“From the successful candidates and any current chief inspectors, somebody will be picked.”
Mr MacInnes insisted Shetland was a great place to live and work. He said one of the main challenges was convincing people of that.
“When they do come some people really like it and come back. But as a community we have to work to share Shetland and sell it.”
He said he hoped to be leaving Shetland in a better state than he had found it – but he also expressed a desire for his successor to make further improvements after he has gone.
“It’s like I said on the radio last week, hopefully the police now work better than they did years ago and hopefully the police in years to come will work better that they do just now. Like anything else it’s got to improve.”
Mr MacInnes added that Shetland was in safe hands now that the new nationwide Police Scotland service was up and running.
“The police in Shetland are better off under Police Scotland than they have been for quite some time. You only have to look at serious assaults in Lerwick town centre and the helicopter incident and the speed with which we got extra resources.
“Yes, there were some challenges, and change brings challenges, but we get resources quicker than we need them.
“We can call on 17,000-plus police officers, do you want to come and work in Shetland. For my position here, as area commander, I believe Shetland has benefited from being with Police Scotland.”