Criminality in South Lanarkshire is largely 'invisible' to the public

Crime across South Lanarkshire only accounts for around a fifth of the incidents that police deal with.
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Councillors were told last week that dealing with “vulnerability, public protection and people in crisis” is where a lot of officers’ time is focused.

And as a top cop told the executive committee about the force’s new three-year strategy, he said that a lot of criminality is “invisible to the public”.

Divisional Commander for Police Scotland in Lanarkshire, Stevie Dolan, said: “Demand on policing is changing. We do operate in a challenging environment but overall about 20 per cent of our demand relates to crime and that is a significant reduction over a sustained period of time.

Criminality is changing but the divisional commander has pledged to ensure officers remain visible on local streets.Criminality is changing but the divisional commander has pledged to ensure officers remain visible on local streets.
Criminality is changing but the divisional commander has pledged to ensure officers remain visible on local streets.

“Only around a fifth of the incidents that Police Scotland colleagues deal with now relate to criminality across South Lanarkshire. The majority of incidents are around vulnerability, public protection and people in crisis.”

Councillors also heard about upcoming challenges the division could face due to funding cuts, but they were assured that officers will work hard to keep the streets safe.

Divisional Commander Dolan added: “When I joined the police service 31 years ago, most of the crimes that we dealt with were within the public domain; it was criminality within streets, in public areas.

“A lot of the criminality that we deal with now is invisible to the public. It takes place online in terms of online fraud or online indecent images. It also takes place within people’s houses, so whether it is sexual crime, domestic abuse or domestic violence, many or the majority of the crime that we deal with now is not within the public domain.

“That presents us with a number of challenges. While you and I will always want police officers visible within the community, that will never change, a lot of our activity does have to take place now within that space which is not visible to the public.

“The operating context that we find ourselves in at the minute is along the same lines as yourselves as a local authority in terms of budget allocation. Police Scotland will have to make some real tough decisions, the same as many local authorities given the funding allocation.

“So what does that mean for us in South Lanarkshire? What that is likely to mean is a reduction in officer numbers, or a redesign of how we allocate police officers in the area. Now those are live discussions, not yet c oncluded but I t hink, as divisional commander, the commitment that I will always give is prioritising visible policing within communities.

"I can say with a high level of confidence that community policing is the bedrock of policing within Scotland, and the commitment that I would give you personally is that as your commander I would seek to maintain that as much as I possibly can.”

A three-year strategy was outlined and supported by councillors. It is a statutory requirement for police to prepare a local plan that sets out priorities for policing in a local authority area.

Chair of the meeting, council leader Joe Fagan said: “I want to put on record my appreciation for the colleagues from Police Scotland for speaking through their plan and their candour.”