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With the approach of the festive season, multi-agency partners have once again joined forces to support Operation Respect with the aim of making the streets of Inverness safer for shoppers and party goers, both day and night, during the festive season.

Supported by Inverness Community Safety Partnership and the Operation Respect multi-agency group, the city will see increased high visibility police patrols, as well as the use of Inverness Business Improvement District (BID) Security Task Team members and Taxi Marshals, the British Red Cross and Inverness Street Pastors. In addition to increased evening patrols around licensed premises and taxi ranks, there will also be a focus on the security and safety of shoppers and businesses, with plain clothes officers proactively targeting those involved in shoplifting both in the city centre and the retail parks. 

On Friday 18th December, the national Police Scotland Campaign against Violence initiative will support Operation Respect with an increased police presence across the city and adjoining areas, tackling issues such as anti-social behaviour, alcohol and drugs misuse and associated criminality.

Inspector Jason Beeston, lead officer for the operation, is urging people to drink responsibly and act respectfully towards others. He said:

“During the festive period, we see an increase in activity in and around retail parks and shops, and would ask that people be mindful of their own security and be aware that criminals see this period as being an opportune time to target individuals. Simple safety advice would be to make sure that your shopping is safe by not letting it out of your view, keeping your bags closed and ensure your purse or wallet is not easily accessible when not being used.

"Use cash machines in well-lit areas and be mindful that the device has not been tampered with. Shield your pin, be aware of who is behind you and put your money and card away as soon as you’re done."

"Throughout December there is an increase in people going out and some may find that they drink more than they would normally would. With this in mind, I would seek this opportunity to remind party-goers to plan ahead and take care not to become involved in unnecessary confrontation.

“The festive period is a time to celebrate and have fun but for some sadly, it can provide opportunity to take advantage of those who are vulnerable and susceptible to crime.

"Police Scotland is once again delighted to work with our key partners to ensure that people gain the maximum enjoyment over the next few weeks and remain safe in doing so.

Inspector Beeston added: “Police Scotland and our partners will be distributing a range of personal safety messages and we will use our social media capability to keep these messages relevant and current and as always, we would ask the public to be alert to any dangers or suspicious activity and report to the police using 101, or in an emergency using 999".

Mike Smith, Manager of Inverness BID said: ‘Inverness Business Improvement District are pleased to once again be an integral part of the Operation Respect Partnership.

This year reflecting the greater emphasis of the Operation on the daytime economy, we believe that the deployment of our Security Task Team will make a positive contribution to our commitment to maintain a safe and secure City Centre for customers, staff and visitors to Inverness. Our Taxi Marshals will assist in ensuring that the public get home safely after their night out.’

Lauren Mackay, Event First Aid Coordinator for Northern Scotland, British Red Cross said: "The Red Cross wants everybody to have a great time during the festive season and to be safe while they celebrate. That’s why our first aid volunteers will be out and about the weekends of 11th, 12th & 18th, 19th December, to provide help to anyone who needs it."

"Accidents happen and sometimes people become a bit vulnerable when they’re enjoying a night on the town. We’ll be there, supporting the Scottish Ambulance Service and the NHS, providing whatever assistance is needed.

Mark Hadfield, Night-time Activities Coordinator for Inverness Street Pastors said:

"Operation Respect is about helping us all to have an enjoyable and safe holiday season by respecting each other and respecting the community. Whether shopping, enjoying the city's night life, or within the communities where we live and work: it's everyone's responsibility to look out for one another, not just agencies, and everyone benefits.

"We're very excited to be a part of the partnership's efforts again this year. We'd like to have some fun as well as trying to help everyone feel safe. So do come and chat to us when you see us out and about during the day as well as during the night; warm-up in the SafeZONE van over a hot drink whilst waiting to regroup with friends or charge your mobile phone; and if anything should go wrong then remember that we're also here to assist.

"Let's see if together we can make this the safest and most enjoyable festive season ever."

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