As a native of the peaceable Highland capital, I was quite shocked to see the words “police horses” and “Inverness” in the same sentence. Why on earth would there be any need to employ such an expensive resource, normally associated with serious trouble? It’s not as if they were even taken from a stable down the road. The animals were transported 200 miles from Ayrshire for a pre-Christmas show of police strength. They were even used to police the Inverness Caledonian Thistle game on the Saturday afternoon. I cannot imagine, as someone who goes to Caley games when I can, how that would ever have been necessary or appropriate.
Inverness has managed perfectly well without anti-riot measures up until now. I’ve never felt unsafe there. The presence of mounted police would do more to make me feel threatened than anything else I’ve encountered. It’s also quite insulting that such an expensive tactic was used at a time when local control room closures, with resulting job losses, were imminent.
Danny Alexander, who’s the local MP, has now written to the Scottish Justice Secretary about this. He said:
While the SNP are overseeing the closures control rooms and community front desks across north, the additional cost of mounted police is unjustifiable.
I am sure that this measure does a great deal of good in some other parts of Scotland, but it is wholly unnecessary here in the Highlands. It is yet another example of the failures of a centralised police force. These ranks would be better used to support community policing across the Highlands.
I would be very much like to hear whether Mr MacAskill agree with Police Scotland that mounted police are needed in the Highlands.
This shows up yet another problems with the centralisation of Scotland’s police force. I recently wrote about how decades of successful local policy towards Edinburgh saunas had been overturned almost as soon as the newly merged police force came into being.
It seems very much to be the old Strathclyde’s way or no way at all. That’s a huge mistake. Policing needs in Glasgow are totally different from policing needs in the Highlands and Islands. What next? Tasers in Achiltibuie?