the FIRST benefits of Scotland’s new Single Police Service were visible on the streets of Montrose on Saturday to help police the crowd for Montrose FC’s match against Rangers.
Four mounted officers from Strathclyde were tangible evidence of the service’s approach to resource sharing which Chief Inspector Gordon Milne, in charge of the Angus area, said will help strengthen local policing.
Tayside Police, now Tayside Division, ceased to be last week with the changeover to the new single force. Specialised resources can now be pooled and used by divisions across the country.
Chief Inspector Milne said: “We wouldn’t have had access to horses a few weeks ago as only two forces, Strathclyde and Lothian & Borders, maintained mounted sections. This demonstrates what Police Scotland can mean for local policing as these resources are now available all over Scotland.
“The transition means that these are now a national asset and we can ask for their assistance. We had four officers up assisting with crowd control outwith the ground which went very well. We even had a queue of children at one stage who were wanting to see them and the local public seemed to be both bemused and delighted to see them there.
“As a smallish force we didn’t have that kind of luxury before, but it may become a regular occurrence. We can also now ask for helicopter support for incidents as we’re only 45 minutes’ flying time from Glasgow, which is a big comfort to my officers on the ground to know that they can call on that kind of assistance.”
Mr Milne also said that locally the single force’s intention is to emphasise community policing which, to an extent, will hark back to traditional methods.
He continued: “We have dedicated officers who aren’t working shift patterns and that will allow them to get out and about, get to know people and get intelligence and information flowing - the ‘bobby on the beat’ idea.
“It’s what our colleagues were doing 40 years ago. Wherever people are in Angus they’ll be able to find out quickly who their local officer is and contact them.”
Regarding Saturday, Mr Milne praised the crowd for their behaviour and his officers for their pre-match planning and stewarding.
He said: “The day went well and was uneventful, probably because it was well planned with plenty of resources and back-up from dogs and horses. The stewarding was well done too. There were two arrests, which is normal for a game of that size when the ground is at maximum capacity.”