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Performance of Police and Fire services in Caithness & Sutherland under the spotlight

12th February 2015

During this week's Caithness and Sutherland Area Committee councillors had the opportunity to scrutinise and discuss progress reports from the Police and Fire services and to find out more details about the work underway to address local priorities.

Chief Inspector Iain MacLelland presented the Police Scotland Area Performance Summary and started by highlighting that the overall crime across the Highlands continues to fall while detection rates are increasing. The statistics show that in Highland there has been a reported reduction in Class 1-4 crimes of 20.2 with a 29% reduction in violent crime, a 28% reduction in sexual crimes and a 19% reduction in crimes of dishonesty.

The Chief Inspector went on to highlight findings in the performance report under each of the following priorities - road safety; alcohol and drugs abuse/misuse; antisocial behaviour; crimes of dishonesty and protecting people. He also explained that significant work is currently on-going across Police Scotland for the i6 project to deliver common national policing processes across Scotland. This will allow for more detailed breakdown of statistics to give Councillors a clearer picture of issues in their own ward.

There then followed an over view of the 101 service in Highland before Robert Scott, Group Manager with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service gave a presentation on performance against a number of key areas of planned activity that was identified during consultation sessions within the Caithness and Sutherland Wards. These include reducing accidental dwelling house fires and their associated fatalities and casualties; reducing the number of deliberate fires; reducing road traffic collisions and reducing the number of call outs to false alarms.

He highlighted that over 600 fire safety visits had been carried out over the last year in Caithness and Sutherland and although the number of fires in domestic dwellings was down, the service saw this as a priority and wanted to reduce this figure further. There then followed a discussion on some of the challenges faced when it comes to recruiting staff and Councillors were asked to spread the word to people that there were training opportunities and jobs in local communities.

Highland Council works closely with Police Scotland, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and other partners across a range of initiatives to reduce crime, including pro-active work to tackle doorstep crime, reduce anti-social behaviour and hate crime, and raise awareness around alcohol and drug related issues.

Chair of the Committee, Councillor Deirdre Mackay thanked the representatives for presenting their reports and for giving updates of work they are undertaking to make communities safer. She said: "We very much welcome the introduction of Police and Scottish Fire and Rescue monitoring at our Area Committee. It is working well and provides members with the opportunity to scrutinise local issues in depth with senior officers.

“It was very informative to get a better sense of the detail behind the statistics as well as hearing more about the work underway by both organisations to keep our communities safe. The reduction in crime is good news and should give reassurance to communities that measures to improve safety for everyone are working. We hope this downward trend continues."

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