Source: Scotland – Highland Council
We are running the annual #OpRespect campaign to make sure that people in the Highlands and islands are able to enjoy the festive season safely.
The festive strand of the well-established operation runs through the Christmas and New Year period as efforts begin to make sure Christmas and New Year are memorable for the right reasons.
Operation Respect is a long-running initiative aimed at tackling anti-social behaviour and violence.
Police Scotland is supported by various partners, including local authorities, the British Red Cross, Inverness BID, and Street Pastors among others.
Operation Respect patrols are carried out across the Highlands, the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland during the festive period.
Chief Inspector Ian Graham, Operation Respect lead for Highland and Islands Division said: “We are delighted to be working again with key partners to ensure a safe and welcoming environment for all over the festive period.
“We will have increased patrols in our town centres, particularly around our pubs and clubs.
“Officers will be on hand to engage with the public, offer reassurance, deter criminal activity and respond to any incidents, which arise. If you require any assistance from the police while out and about, please do not hesitate to speak with the officers on patrol, or by contacting us via 101 or 999.”
Suzy Calder, chair of the Inverness Community Safety Partnership, said: “We are delighted that the partnership can support Operation Respect, which ensures that everyone who comes in to town are supported and encouraged to enjoy their celebrations in a way which is safe.
“There will be an increased presence from Police Scotland, Inverness BID and British Red Cross to help anyone who finds themselves in need.
“It is anticipated that this initiative will reduce the impact on our Scottish Ambulance Service colleagues and NHS colleagues to allow them to provide help to anyone who needs it, while allowing other agencies to keep the city centre safe.
“Safety is everyone’s business and we would encourage people to drink responsibly and to look out for their workmates and friends when they are on a night out to make sure everyone gets home safely.”
Deborah Stewart, Coordinator for Highland Alcohol & Drugs Partnership said: “HADP are pleased to be partners in Operation Respect, as it will help to reduce alcohol and drug related harm and keep people safe. It fits well with the HADP festive campaign which aims to increase public awareness of Count14; to stay within 14 units of alcohol per week, and useful ways to prevent and respond to overdose situations”.
John McDonald, Community Safety Manager, Inverness BID said: “Inverness BID, supported by the Inverness Common Good Fund, are a significant partner and contributor to the annual Operation Respect Festive initiative which has now been running for many years across Inverness.
“The city centre, in particular, benefits from a range of increased resourcing and partnership working throughout the festive period. Police Scotland have dedicated increased patrols and they hold specific crime prevention events at various locations to keep the public informed.
“We have our BID ambassador and BID task team operating within the city centre providing support to business premises, retail outlets and the general public as required of any incident that occurs or in just providing information or advice.
“They also provide valuable support to Police Scotland by their very presence on the streets. This type of intervention actively discourages crimes such as shoplifting and anti- social behaviour.
“This helps to enhance the economic vibrancy of the city as well as providing a safer environment for members of the public to go about their daily activities.
“Recognising the night-time economy issues we support the Safe Zone and Street Pastors who engage with and support those revellers in need of such assistance.
“Inverness BID also provide the taxi marshall service at the two main ranks on Academy Street and Castle Wynd over the weekends and festive nights over the period of the initiative.
“Inverness BID are delighted to once again be a partner in this wholly worthwhile initiative which ensures Inverness city centre is a safe place at all times to live, work, visit and enjoy.”
Mark Hadfield, co-ordinator of Inverness Street Pastors, said: This is a special time of year and it’s our privilege to be working alongside others once more to help the festive season to be safe and enjoyable.
“For many people that will include a memorable night out in Inverness City Centre without any drama. But if anybody finds it doesn’t quite go to plan then our Safe Zone van is kitted out to help, and our friends from the British Red Cross won’t be far away either.
“The van is also a friendly space when things are going well. If you want to get out of the cold, enjoy a free cup of hot chocolate, recharge a mobile phone, regroup with lost friends, or simply have a chat, then there’s a warm welcome waiting for you.
“Our Street Pastors will also be about the town on foot – do wish them a Merry Christmas when you see them or call them over for assistance if needed.
“People can always help themselves and others to stay safe by planning a few simple things before their night out. Charge and top-up your mobile phone before you leave the house. Take enough money to get home on your own if you should become separated from your group. Dress for the weather.
“Drink responsibly – have a good time but know your limit. It’s a sad fact that the combination of inadequate clothing and excess alcohol is a potential killer on colder nights.
“We’re hoping there’ll be no such stories and that everyone will enjoy this special time of the year. Merry Christmas everyone.”
Call 101 for non-emergencies and general enquiries, in an emergency call 999. If you have information about a crime you can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.