A police officer will be appointed to Yell, bringing cover to the North Isles and helping to finally get police numbers fully up to speed.
The officer, who is coming from the Central Belt, will be stationed in Mid Yell, but will also cover Unst, Fetlar and Whalsay – filling a post which has remained empty for a number of years.
News of his appointment was made by Chief Inspector Lindsay Tulloch to yesterday’s community safety and resilience board meeting.
Mr Tulloch also highlighted successes in the war against drugs and announced the launch of a rural watch initiative.
The recruitment for Yell follows concerns over previous years that staffing levels were down. Also helping keep the numbers up is the recruitment of a Shetland officer due to start a probationary period in September ahead of being stationed in Lerwick.
“Our staffing complement will be one hundred per cent full,” Mr Tulloch told members.
“We will be fully staffed in Shetland from September and October onwards, so things are very positive looking ahead.”
The news should have been made in front of Police Scotland’s Chief Constable, Philip Gormley, who was due to arrive in the isles. But his flight could not land at Sumburgh because of poor weather.
Speaking to The Shetland Times after the meeting, Mr Tulloch said he was “really pleased” to bring the staffing news to the meeting.
“That’s a post that has not been filled for a number of years, but I’ve been keen to ensure that we’ve got resilience in the North Isles, that we have a police presence and we’re there to attend community councils, for example, prevention in schools, and to make sure we’re listening to what people in the islands are telling us and the issues affecting them.
“So, it’s really positive. He’ll be covering Yell, Unst, Fetlar and Whalsay.”
He said the new recruit was looking forward to the challenge.
“It’s something communities in the North Isles have been asking for since I took up the post of Area Commander. I’ve strived to try and deliver on that.
“Our staffing levels are up to capacity, and I’ve been able to fill that post with somebody from the Central Belt who has been more than willing and applied to come. It’s someone who is keen to come and get settled in the community.”
He also highlighted a reduction in drug crimes, drink driving and anti-social behaviour.
Mr Tulloch said he was still keen to get information from the public.
“It’s one of my main priorities, as I always keep saying, to ensure we are preventing and trying to stop the supply of drugs in Shetland, and stop organised crime coming into Shetland.”
He said a key part of the tool remains Dogs Against Drugs. But education also played a major part in the process.
“I have to applaud them for the preventative work that they do in schools. They’re going in on a regular basis, speaking to the children. Children are engaging with them. They’re seeing the dogs. That’s something we can’t measure at the moment, but hopefully in the future we will see a change in the culture in Shetland.”
He described Rural Watch as a “two-way communication scheme” allowing those living in rural communities to provide their mobile numbers of email addresses.
“When we suspect there is criminality in the areas people are living in we can send a message to them, asking them to be aware and report back any suspicious activity.
“It’s an effort to stop criminals targeting isolated areas.”
The meeting came ahead of the passing out parade of the local force’s youth volunteers, which was due to be attended by Mr Gormley.
Mr Tulloch said the Chief Constable was still eager to visit the isles, and viewed his no-show as a postponement, rather than a cancellation.
• For more details and reaction, see next week’s Shetland Times