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Bid being made to fill four police vacancies in Caithness, says area Inspector

By Gordon Calder

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Inspector Stephen Mezals addressing the meeting in Thurso. Picture: Mel Roger
Inspector Stephen Mezals addressing the meeting in Thurso. Picture: Mel Roger

A bid is being made to fill four police vacancies in Caithness, according to Police Scotland's area inspector for Caithness.

Speaking at a meeting of the Association of Caithness Community Councils in Thurso, Inspector Stephen Mezals acknowledged that numbers are down at present and said rural areas can struggle to retain staff. Budgetary constraints can also be an issue.

But the inspector stressed that Police Scotland is trying to recruit locally at present and pointed out that if someone wants to be based in Caithness and not moved elsewhere every effort would be made to make that possible.

"We are doing the best we can with the resources we have," he said.

Thurso community councillor Billy Sinclair, referring to the recent wintry weather, asked what would happen if an ambulance was trying to get a patient to Raigmore hospital in Inverness but could not get there because of adverse conditions. He said a baby was born in the back of an ambulance outside Dornoch recently.

Inspector Mezals said one option would be an air ambulance but explained that the police have regular meetings with other agencies such as the Fire and Rescue Service, the Scottish Ambulance Service, NHS Highland, BEAR Scotland, Highland Council and others to discuss such contingencies.

"There will be a way to get that person down the road," he said.

Highland councillor Jan McEwan (Wick and East Caithness) argued that if more mothers could have their babies at Caithness General Hospital a lot of these contingency plans would be irrelevant.

"You would not need to get round the table at these meetings because the risk would not be there," she stated.

Wick community council chairman Allan Farquhar asked how often the road between Caithness and Inverness was blocked last year.

Inspector Mezals was unable to answer the question but said he could find out and pass on the information later.

Councillor Matthew Reiss (Thurso and Northwest Caithness) praised the wok done by the emergency services and others during the snowstorms.

"The police and other services did an extremely good job in the last few weeks," he said.

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