A thief stealing from a shop, an addict shooting up in an alley, a fight outside a nightclub — these are just some of the crimes police officers encounter during a patrol of Dundee city centre.
And with the ambitious Waterfront development under way, Sergeant Lucy Cameron and her team are determined that residents and visitors to the city don’t have their experience blighted by the criminals determined to cause trouble on our streets.
The Tele joined Sgt Cameron as she carried out a patrol through the city centre. She spoke of the common issues and what Police Scotland is doing to tackle them.
During the daylight hours, battling the shoplifters and drug use is the main concern. But, as darkness falls, preventing and breaking up violence become priorities.
“I’ve been here for about 14 years, and the city centre is definitely safer now than it used to be, but it will always have some issues due to the size of Dundee and its large population,” said Sgt Cameron.
“The biggest issue is probably drugs, and that is more connected with our daytime problems.
“The main concern for drug users is first of all their condition — it’s not a pleasant thing to see — and we do stop and search people who are under the influence of a substance because there will also be drug dealing going on.
“Reform Street, the Murraygate and the Seagate are particular concerns, and drug use is connected to shoplifting, which is a problem in the city centre.
“Pretty much all the shops in the city have been targeted by shoplifters at one stage.
“It’s mostly petty thefts that we see here in Dundee, we don’t have a big gang problem.”
Dundee has a vibrant student scene during the night, but police don’t believe that violence is linked to their activities, but is more down to drink-fuelled chaos created by locals on a Friday or Saturday night.
Sgt Cameron hailed the radio-linked system DUNCAN — the DUNdee Co-ordinated Anticrime Network — as being particularly effective in combating thugs looking for a fight.
She said: “The scheme is invaluable. The clubs are linked by radio as well as with our CCTV room and the control room. If someone is causing an issue they’d shout on their link radio and the rest of the door staff would have that message and our CCTV room would pick up that message.
“We deal with about 15 to 20 incidents of violence on a typical Friday or Saturday night, and we have absolutely zero tolerance to that.
“Some are given on-the-spot fines and others get conditions or orders placed on them to make sure they can’t come back again.”
Legal highs and driving through the Commercial Street restricted zone are also problem areas. But Sgt Cameron stressed the force, and their partners, were also there to help support the needy.
She added: “One example is the Safe Zone Bus, which is back in the car park at Lidl on Friday and Saturday nights. It’s run by the Tayside Council on Alcohol and the Red Cross, which helps the vulnerable with advice, and even just sits down with them for a cup of tea to talk about their problems.
“It’s a different type of policing here.
“There’s more engagement with the public and I want everyone to know we’re always here to listen.”