THIS YEAR’S Links Market will be policed by a private security firm.
But the Scottish branch of the Showman’s Guild, which is in charge of the annual attraction, has assured the public’s safety will continue to be a top priority to ensure everyone enjoys the popular street fair.
For the first time the Guild has decided to give responsibility for providing security at the six-day event to private security firm G4S.
It will have stewards within the market itself to make sure there is no trouble throughout its stay on the Esplanade.
Fife Police will still have a presence at the event and have stressed their commitment to providing resources to make sure visitors have a safe and enjoyable day out.
The force is also mounting a large traffic management programme which will see a number of road diversions, closures and parking restrictions put in place.
The centuries old open-air funfair, which attracts up to 125,000 visitors during its stay, rolls into town on Wednesday afternoon and will run until the following Monday evening.
Philip Paris, former chairman of the Guild’s Scottish branch, said the decision to go with a private security firm was based on costs.
He said: “We took over the running of the market in 1995 from the local authority.
‘‘Unfortunately since then the costs for running all the different departments has increased.
‘’We pay Fife Police a considerable amount of money to police the event and this year they were looking to increase the costs significantly - this is why we looked at a private security firm instead.
“The company we are dealing with has a lot of experience in policing large events such as pop concerts and will be making sure the market remains a safe environment for visitors.”
Alex James Colquhoun, the new chairman of the Scottish branch of the Showman’s Guild, added: “Fife Police have always been at the market but due to rising costs, we have decided to go with a private security firm.
“We will have police within the market site on the Friday and Saturday due to the large crowds and there will still be a police presence throughout our stay - we want people to feel safe.
“We are using the security firm as a trial and are continuing to work closely with the police so we don’t forsee any problems.”
Superintendent Andy Edmonston, who is charge of the force’s policing operation for the event, said: “Although security within the market is the responsibility of the Showman’s Guild and provided by G4S, police officers in high visibility uniform will be in the area around the market.
“They will take robust action against people found to be carrying and consuming alcohol in public spaces and searches will be carried out on anyone thought to be committing such offences.”
He urged visitors to take sensible precautions to make sure they don’t leave valuables on open display in their cars including removing satellite navigation systems from their vehicles when parked.
He continued: “People should also be sensible when carrying and opening purses and wallets and keep their mobile phones out of sight when not in use.
‘’They should also keep their car and house keys in their pockets and women should carry handbags with the clasps facing inwards.
“Traffic restrictions will be in place for the period of the Links Market and any drivers who park illegally are likely to have their vehicles towed away, fined for causing an obstruction and will have to pay an additional fee to recover their vehicle.
“There will be a zero tolerance of any anti-social behaviour, which could stop other people enjoying their day out at the Links Market.”
He added: “If anyone has any concerns, bring them to the attention of a police officer or a G4S security guard.
‘We are all here to ensure people have a safe and enjoyable day out.”
Scott Clelland, area parks team leader with the local authority, said: “Fife Council welcomes the Showmen’s community to Kirkcaldy and we hope that the event is a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone who visits.”