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More police patrols in Dundee city centre amid spike in anti-social behaviour

Locals will see an increase of community police officers patrolling Dundee city centre from Monday.
Locals will see an increase of community police officers patrolling Dundee city centre from Monday.

Police in Tayside are ramping up patrols in Dundee city centre to help curb antisocial behaviour.

Dundee residents will notice significantly more officers patrolling on foot and bikes from Monday as part of a new city centre community policing team model.

In comes as officers aim to tackle what they describe as increasing “infantile” behaviour.

Dedicated inspector of the new team, Colin Echevarria, said Dundee has seen a clear spike in anti-social behaviour in recent months.

Dedicated inspector of the new city centre community policing team, Colin Echevarria.

The inspector said that since January, young people between the ages of 13 and 17 have been coming into the centre in large groups of around 30 to 40 people at a time.

He said they gather in and around fast food establishments such as McDonald’s and KFC.

Police Scotland’s Inspector Echevarria said: “We’re looking at vandalism, assaults on police officers, damage to people’s mopeds and setting fire to wheelie bins.

“The city centre is a nice environment for young people; it’s bright, it’s safe, they’re not out in the housing estates where there’s nothing to do.

“You’ve now got the waterfront here, [with] the whale [and] the beach.

“It’s just a draw for them and at McDonald’s and KFC, there’s free Wi-Fi, food readily available, and warmth.

The new community policing model is in response to a spike in anti-social behaviour in the city centre.

“90% of the groups that are coming in aren’t causing us any issues but there are the minority within that group that are causing problems.”

Last month, two 14-year-old boys were charged after one allegedly set fire to a bin outside McDonald’s in Reform Street and the other was accused of throwing a bottle at police officers.

Police said they were also investigating an incident where a delivery driver’s moped was damaged by a group of youths outside the Keiller Centre on Chapel Street on February 15.

How will things change?

Previously, Dundee’s city centre community was patrolled by one sergeant and four community officers while also having a response team based at West Bell Street who mainly attended calls in the south of Dundee.

The new model will include more officers in the city centre with a mix of community and response police who will patrol the centre 365 days a year until 1am during weekdays and 4am on weekends.

Insp Echevarria said the new model will adapt to the regeneration of Dundee over the last few years with the aim to make visitors and locals feel “safe and secure”.

Insp Colin Echevarria and officers of the new city centre community policing team.

The exact number of police officers that will be patrolling the centre has not been specified but they will all be on foot and bicycles.

Dundee crime rate ranked worst in Scotland

In 2020/21 Dundee was ranked the worst in Scotland for crime as the city’s total number of recorded crimes per 10,000 population was 688, while Scotland’s average is 451.

In the last 10 years, Scotland’s overall crime rates have decreased by 22%, while Dundee’s crime rates have increased by 4%.

Crimes of dishonesty – including theft and fraud – along with fire-raising and vandalism are some of Scotland’s most perpetual crimes.

Insp Echevarria said the new city centre community policing team will aim to curb these crimes in the city centre.

“What this model and new team bring is a proactive approach so what you do is have police officers back on the street, walking, because it’s proactive, they can stop it before it happens because there is that visibility,” Insp Echevarria added.

Insp Echevarria said the new model will give officers the opportunity to get to know repeated offenders.

“You also get to know the people in the city centre who are regular prolific offenders and the continual offenders.

“It’s all about finding out the cause of that shoplifting, why are they doing it? It’s not always about criminalising people for it.

“Once you get to know the repeated offenders and the officers speak to them they find out the reasons and can try to help them so it improves that relationship as well, not just with the public but with the people that are offending.”

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