MORE bobbies are on their way to the Helensburgh and Lomond beat, according to the town’s senior police officer.

And the area could also soon see the return of community police officers – for the first time in a number of years.

Inspector Roddy MacNeill told members of the Helensburgh and Lomond community planning group of plans to increase Police Scotland’s strength in the area at a meeting in Arrochar last week.

Inspector MacNeill said: “I may get some community police back out on the streets. I have asked for this and it has not been refused as yet.

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“We have not had community police officers for a number of years. I have worked with such officers many times in many places, and they are great to have for schools or problematic areas and individuals.

"They never run out of work to do, so hopefully with this review, I will get a couple of community cops to operate here.

“We are getting three brand new probationers in March, and have had a couple of posts moved down from Rothesay and Dunoon. These do not include the potential new community officers.

“That will mean better resources than we have had for some time.

"I have recently been covering Dunoon and Rothesay, but that has stopped as the previous inspector has now been replaced.

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“We have also had to send officers there at times over the last couple of months as one of the demands on resources, but that has now come to an end.”

West of Scotland MSP Maurice Corry, who lives in Helensburgh and has previously called for the re-introduction of community police officers across Scotland, told the Advertiser: “It is reassuring to hear Inspector MacNeill speaking of his request for community police officers to be based at Helensburgh police station.

“Ever since I was elected I have been pushing for more community policing, and the creation of Police Community Support Officers (PCSO), like there are currently in England and Wales.

“Since the SNP Government merged regional police forces to form Police Scotland, personnel can be taken away from local areas meaning police officers do not know the area, the people or the ongoing problems.

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"It is vital for good, effective policing that officers have in-depth knowledge of the area and the problems.

“I support Inspector MacNeill with his push for community police officers, and in my role as shadow minister for community safety will continue to support both local community policing and the national recruitment drive to increase numbers of police special constables.”

Inspector MacNeill also gave the CPG an update on the police’s youth volunteer programme, and its work to ensure young people are internet-safe.

He added: “The youth volunteer group is about a year to 18 months old and is still full.

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“All the kids are CPR Heartstart trained and they have been all over the place – Edinburgh Castle, attending Princess Anne’s visits here, up to Gleneagles for the [Solheim Cup] golf.

“If they sign up for the police as a result of their involvement with the group, that’s great, but it’s about community involvement.

“I go to their training some nights and some of the things they now have on their CVs are great. They are going from strength to strength.

“PC Steven Carr, who runs the programme, is also our youth engagement officer, and he and [Ministry of Defence Police constable] Ian Mustarde have just put 560 school pupils through internet safety training.

“They will go into schools to do anything – and the schools are usually the ones contacting us.”

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