THE FOLK of Clydesdale should thank their lucky stars that the area didn’t play a major part in the first major crime crackdown operation mounted by the new Police Scotland’s Lanarkshire force.
Among those grateful that there were relatively few violent and serious criminals around here to arrest compared to other parts of the county during Operation Fleet was the man in charge of it all, Lanarkshire’s new police commander, Chief Superintendent Nelson Telfer.
“I suppose I should be thankful because, after all, I live in Carluke myself,” he told the Gazette.
He spoke out as the force took stock of the results of its series of dawn swoops on certain addresses, leading to the arrest of scores of suspects.
A reflection of how Clydesdale is spared most of the serious crime inflicting other parts of Lanarkshire can be seen in the fact that the most serious matter dealt with in our area during the operation was the arrest of a suspected drugs ‘farmer’ in Lesmahagow.
The 31-year-old man was arrested and charged after police raiding his home in the village allegedly found 18 cannabis plants being cultivated, with a ‘street value’ of an estimated £9000. He has been reported to the Procurator Fiscal at Lanark.
Said the county police chief: “That was worthwhile, as were all the other elements of Operation Fleet which took place in the Clydesdale area.
“We might not have the most serious crime statistics in Lanarkshire here in Clydesdale but the rural area does have it own problems, especially with opportunist thiefs who think that, because they are in a countryside area, there are less people about to spot them and report them.
“That is why public co-operation is, if anything, even more important in Clydesdale than in other parts of Lanarkshire. If people see anything or anyone suspicious, report it; it might be something innocent but we want to know if people are worried about something going on in their area.
“This means that we can build up a picture of a problem in any given area and then devote the resources to tackle it.
“That was one of the major advantages of that operation; because it was a special, one-day effort, we could get 162 officers usually on back-office duties out into the field. It showed how we could use that manpower to deal with matters which might have had to wait a while; that Lesmahagow raid, for instance, might have had to wait its turn for the resources available to carry it out but we managed to undertake it that day because of the temporary boost in manpower on the front line.”
There’s not a little local pride to be had from the fact that Operation Fleet was, in fact, the very first such operation mounted anywhere by the new Police Scotland force.
The Chief Superintendent makes no secret of the fact that a whole-of-Lanarkshire divisional force now gives him the flexibity and manpower to devote large numbers of officers to any troublespot quickly and efficiently, be it in the more troubled urban centres or even in rural Clydesdale, should the need arise.
“I can’t stress enough, though,” he added, “that the co-operation of the law-abiding people of Clydesdale is absolutely vital if we are to serve them to the best.”