Shetland’s top police officer says there appears to be a misperception among sections of the public that the influx of construction workers to build the Total gas plant has caused an upsurge in crime.
Chief inspector Angus MacInnes said he had found the companies working up at Sullom Voe to be “very aware and conscious of their reputation” and “nothing but helpful” in their dealings with police.
Sheriff Philip Mann recently bemoaned the level of drunken “thuggery” taking place in Lerwick at weekends and said it may only be a matter of time before a drink-fuelled incident had “tragic consequences”.
Mr MacInnes said it was possible people were wrongly equating the arrival of hundreds of workers with a spate of violent crime which took place last summer. The amount of assaults has subsequently tailed off.
“The people fighting in the street, the majority are people who are local to Shetland,” he said. “People breaking the law when they are driving tends to be people who are local to Shetland.”
Mr MacInnes told The Shetland Times he had not detected much change in the level of crime in Brae either. In the month of December, for instance, police took 29 calls in the area but recorded no crimes.
Lerwick Community Council chairman Jim Anderson referred during its Monday meeting to a story doing the rounds that 28 people had been sent home by employers last week following an incident at the Mid Brae Inn.
Mr MacInness said that, while the companies “certainly did move them on very quickly”, he understood the number of people involved in that particular incident was in single figures.
With floating hotels being brought in to accommodate more workers, Mr MacInness was asked if he was worried about the potential impact on crime in the town. He said there was a joint security group which met regularly with construction companies, who also have their own security.
“It doesn’t cause me any great concern,” he said. “If there are any issues we’ll make sure they’re dealt with.”