7 February 2010

On Patrol with the Fraserburgh Police

There are times when one simply yearns for a slow boring evening; which failing - a slow interesting evening. But I didn't expect Saturday's patrol with Inspector John Esson's team until 4 a.m. in Fraserburgh to fit either description.

When I last did the night shift with the Broch police on St Andrew's Day 2002 a rough old time was had by all. Then, like in towns across Scotland, the main issue for the forces of law and order was mopping up the after effects of excess alcohol. The inebriated needing protection from their own folly; the public needing defence from the misdirected spleen of the drunks; businesses needing protection from random drink-fuelled violence.

From the team briefing in the police station to what was for me the night's end when the night clubs closed, the atmosphere was markedly different from last time.

Yes, there was still the substantial focus on known “faces”, mainly involved in the supply of dangerous and illegal drugs, but it was clear from the moment we left Dennyduff Road that the streets were going to be several notches calmer than last time.

So why? In 2002, there was no CCTV in the Broch. Street drinking had not yet been banned. And there were no fixed penalty notices for low level offending.

Almost as soon as we were off in the police minibus, it was a stop to deal with a young lass drinking from a bottle outside one of the town's hostelries. With assistance from a steward on the door, like others playing their part in Fraserburgh's effective pub-watch scheme, we saw the cheap supermarket booze rapidly disappearing down a drain. A wry smile on the owner's face. And a first indication of why the Scottish Government is right to pursue minimum pricing for alcohol. Better to have supervised imbibing inside licenced premises than a free-for-all driven by unsupervised consumption from supermarket shelves.

With a break in the weather seeing the ice and snow of recent weeks deserting our streets, and a temperature with a “+” in front of it, I expected the town to be milling with revellers enjoying their Saturday.

In fact it was quietish. The advent of CCTV has clearly had precisely the effect I always knew it would have. People behave better knowing that their actions are recorded. And the street drinking ban that I advocated has clearly made a difference.

As the clubs started to empty from about 3 a.m., the crowds seemed good-natured and with a ready banter for the bobbies. As last time, the occasional half-hearted attempt to persuade our mentors for the evening that “a lift hame widnae go amiss”. A joking, but clear no received with good humour.

But human nature being what it is, two cases of “nature's call”. A night swilling beer has inevitable consequences. The new response to public urination is, by comparison with my last tour with the police, swift and effective. Ten minutes to issue a fixed penalty notice instead of a trip to the police station. Keeping the police on the street. And by having an effective remedy for public nuisance, a way to allow the 1,000 extra police delivered by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, to calm the streets and direct our police to more serious matters.

By 4.00am I was pretty tired. If the police were, it didn't show. John Esson and his team, I'm sure like colleagues across Scotland, showed what intelligent policing can deliver. And in Fraserburgh this Saturday night, deliver they did. Boring it wasn't.

Stewart Stevenson
does not gather, use or
retain any cookie data.

However Google who publish for us, may do.
fios ZS is a name registered in Scotland for Stewart Stevenson

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP