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There is a familiar face back among the police faces patrolling the streets in Fort William and wider Lochaber, with the return of Inspector Isla Campbell.
Inspector Campbell was the Lochaber inspector for three years from 2017 and 2020 and the Lochaber Times caught up with her to ask about her return and her career in policing.
Q. Why is it yourself that is back as local inspector – was that something you personally wanted to do?
Inspector Campbell: ‘The beauty of a career in policing is that you get the opportunity to undertake many roles during your service, no matter what rank you hold.
‘I thoroughly enjoyed my tenure as Lochaber inspector between 2017 and 2020 and I love being a resident of Lochaber.
‘In 2020, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a lengthy period away from work. Nick Hough, who was a sergeant in Fort William for many years, stepped in to cover my role very capably.
‘As time went on, our command team agreed that Nick should be promoted into the role to allow for some consistency. I was more than happy to pass on the baton and got involved in a project for the Highlands and Islands when I returned to work.
‘Earlier this year, Nick decided to retire and I wish him many happy years on the golf course. I am grateful to him for taking the reins when I needed to focus on my own health and wellbeing.
‘The opportunity to return to Lochaber arose and I was delighted to accept and carry on in the role.
‘We have lots of work to do with partner agencies as regards the increased number of visitors coming into the area due to the popularity of staycations.
‘We are working together to address the various issues this creates for the local community.
‘I am blessed with highly capable police staff who have a collective 170 years of supporting policing in Lochaber and have fabulous knowledge of the area.
‘We are also working to invest in new police housing to ensure we continue to attract and retain officers in Lochaber.
‘If anyone is interested in applying to be a police officer or special constable, please just call in at the police station and ask for me or one of our probationers who have more up-to-date knowledge on the application and training process.’
Q. What have you been doing since leaving the role?
Inspector Campbell: ‘I was fortunate to work on a project to bring a new national crime recording system to Highlands and Islands Division. We are the second division in Scotland to receive it.
‘The system speaks to the mobile devices officers now have so that they can record incidents anywhere. It also allows for up-to-the-minute information for officers and when fully rolled out across Scotland, we will be able to share information and monitor trends more easily.’
Q. What are the immediate challenges you see landing on your desk?
Inspector Campbell: ‘We are planning some joint initiatives to combat the antisocial and environmental problems associated with wild camping.
‘The escalating cost of living crisis is affecting a lot of people and is of concern. We currently attend numerous calls involving people who are vulnerable through their set of circumstances.
‘Many people believe policing is all about enforcement. In fact around 70 per cent of calls relate to vulnerable people.
‘My officers show high levels of compassion in the wee small hours when things have got just a little too much for people.
‘We work closely with partner agencies on this and as a core member of the Lochaber Community Planning Partnership, I will ensure we are adapting to the changing social landscape and provide a comprehensive policing plan which benefits everyone.
‘My return coincides with an extremely busy period for Lochaber. We have a good working relationship with our event organisers and the local authority.
‘I have just enjoyed policing the 2022 UCI World Mountain Bike Championships at Nevis Range.
‘I’m always amazed at the risks the riders take at this event and then I remember my officers put themselves in harm’s way daily to keep people safe and that is humbling.’
Inspector Isla Campbell has return as the senior officer for Lochaber. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos