VIOLENCE, youth disorder, and the cost-of-living crisis are among the top priorities for local police in 2024, it has been revealed.

Officers at Police Scotland’s Argyll & West Dunbartonshire Division will be taking a proactive approach to dealing with incidents of this nature over the coming year as well as tackling and managing threat, harm, and risk across the region.

Clydebank Post: Kirsten McLatchie [pictured] has taken over from Ryan McMurdo as Local Area Commander for Argyll & West Dunbartonshire Kirsten McLatchie [pictured] has taken over from Ryan McMurdo as Local Area Commander for Argyll & West Dunbartonshire (Image: Newsquest Staff)However, a new year – and a new Local Area Commander - doesn’t necessarily mean shifting focus from previous goals.

Clydebank Post: Communities Inspector Morven SutherlandCommunities Inspector Morven Sutherland (Image: Newsquest Staff)Morven Sutherland, Communities Inspector, told the Post that the force will be looking to build on the work that it did last year.

Inspector Sutherland said: “One of our overall objectives is to deal with and manage threat, harm, and risk.

“Going forward in 2024 most of my objectives will remain much the same as what they were in 2023 because we still have the cost-of-living crisis and we’re faced with the same budget constraints we had last year.

“We will build on all the work we did but we’ll also focus on many of the same things such as violence which is an absolute priority for the community policing team.

“We’re keen to take a proactive approach to violence which means investigating all violent crime but also targeting offenders, having patrols in the right places at the right times and monitoring licensed premises.

“We’ll also aim to reduce drug-related violence which is a problem that blights the whole of West Dunbartonshire.”

One of cops’ biggest problems in the past 12 months was dealing with increased anti-social behaviour (ASB), particularly in Clydebank town centre.

In May, we reported that police were cracking down on ASB at Clyde Shopping Centre and the surrounding areas.

It came after several incidents where buses were targeted by stone-throwing vandals in Chalmers Street which officers said had “put lives at risk”.

So what is set to change in 2024?

Inspector Sutherland explained that youth disorder remains the largest issue for the community policing team and that she has a clear message to those involved.

She said: “We’re keen to deal with ASB in Clydebank and we’ll be building on the relationships that we created with our partners last year.

“We will carry on that focused activity and drive down ASB. The message to parents is the same as last year; please know where your children are.

“If they are involved in ASB be aware that they will be returned home and action will be taken.

“We also work with our partners at West Dunbartonshire Council so tenancies could be at risk if your child is involved in these incidents.

“Youth disorder is the biggest part of what we do as well as acquisitive crime – e.g. theft – which is something that is another problem amid the cost-of-living crisis.

“However, we do find that we have a select few who are responsible for repeatedly offending so our plan is to target these offenders proactively.

“Drugs are also an ongoing problem as is reducing the harmful effects of drugs. That work is all intelligence-led and we will work with our partners.”

Elsewhere, the force is looking to continue the success of its youth engagement team.

These officers will be working across high schools in West Dunbartonshire delivering talks on everything from violence, domestic abuse, ASB, weapon carrying, and water safety.

Inspector Sutherland described the team as a “fantastic resource”.

She added: “Our youth engagement officers are a fantastic resource that gives us access to what is actually quite a hard age group to reach.

“Getting into the schools and delivering these inputs is really important. We’ve had so many results from that whether it’s just being there in the school when an incident crops up or it's something like water safety.”

Over the coming months, police will also begin to implement Operation Ballaton which aims to tackle ASB at Balloch Park.