Engaging with community is police priority

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‘COMMUNITY’ was the watchword when police in north east Fife launched their strategy for the next four years.

Speaking at local headquarters in Cupar last Friday, Chief Inspector John McDonald emphasised the success of the community engagement model in the past 12 months as he outlined the force’s priorities for 2011-15.

He said: “A single theme runs through today’s launch — taking policing closer to the community.

“We have been really encouraged by the public’s participation in the community engagement model — 1210 people attended 113 public meetings last year.

“We have maintained our commitment to community policing and tried really hard to retain the same local staff in communities.”

Tay Bridgehead councillor Maggie Taylor also spoke in support of the community engagement model, telling audience members it had been a “significant plus” in her ward.

She said: “I wanted to give a balanced view of community policing, but I couldn’t think of anything negative to say, which is wonderful.

“These meetings are bringing the police and the community together, allowing members of the public to get to know their local officers and vice versa.”

Chief Insp. McDonald said crime in north east Fife was down four per cent overall in 2010, including a “massive” reduction in anti-social behaviour and a 40 per cent fall in bicycle thefts in St Andrews.

He said domestic violence had been prioritised and ‘travelling criminals’ from other areas were being targeted.

However, violent crime was on the up, with 15 more serious assaults, and there were also 100 more crimes of dishonesty in north east Fife.

Chief Insp McDonald said those figures reflected increased public confidence in reporting incidents to the police, while an extra 66 reported sexual crimes could be put down to one very large case.

He told audience members that the priorities for north east Fife in the near future would include building on the success of the community engagement model, supporting local events and being visible and accessible to the public.

Fife Constabulary’s overall policing plan for 2011-15 was also launched recently, with priorities to include tackling violent crime, antisocial behaviour and drugs.