Stop checks not personal

Gordon Milne
Gordon Milne

I am Gordon Milne, the Commander for Police Scotland in Angus. That means I’m responsible for the policing of our beautiful county. Having grown up here and raised a family of my own in Angus, I am truly honoured to have such a fantastic job.

The Arbroath Herald has asked me to pen a column through which I’ll try to share my thoughts and views on issues that regularly come my way and potentially affect us all. It’s not a one-way conversation, so let me know if you want me to talk about specific issues.

I’ll highlight some of the problems and challenges my officers regularly deal with, as well as sharing some of the good stories. I’ll share a little advice with you here and there and may be even provoke a few laughs - with me and not at me, I hope!

Policing is a funny old business as they say. In my 25 years on the beat, I have laughed and cried - often on the same day, experienced terrific moments with some great people, but also despaired in the aftermath of what a person can do to a fellow human being.

As my old tutor said: “Aye son, twa’ days in this joob are never the same.”

For our officers and staff, while Angus is a beautiful and mostly peaceful place, it does, like any other place, have its moments. It’s not a violent place in comparison to other areas of Scotland or the UK, but it’s in no way immune to incidents of violence and crime.

We are out there working hard to prevent bad things from happening, but when they do we will try our hardest to resolve problems and catch those responsible to stop them from causing more harm.

The sign above our door says “Keeping People Safe” and that’s our job - that is what we’re about.

For my first venture on to the written page, I’ll share my view on something I am often quizzed on when out and about, on duty and off. The conversation normally starts like this…“So, you’re the Polis are yeh? Well maybe you can explain to me why on earth I got stopped for no reason...”

They’re recounting occasions, they tell me, where police officers have stopped them in their vehicles without any legitimate or obvious reason. Almost without exception, the story teller will never admit to any wrong doing, in the first five minutes of the conversation at least. But I tend to get it out of them eventually.

My patient reply, well rehearsed through the years, centres on the following facts: The law gives our police officers the power to stop ANY motor vehicle being driven on a road at any time. Full stop. No reason is necessary. And that includes tractors.

My officers will do this in Angus. You may have done nothing wrong in your life, ever. But the police can and very possibly will stop you. Please realise, it’s not personal.

Why do we do this? Well, we know there is a small number of people who drive illegally, be it not having a driving licence, or insurance, or after having drunk alcohol or even taken drugs.

We also know that criminals use the roads just as much as law-abiding good people and we really don’t like criminals. I want to make Angus an uncomfortable place for them to try to make a profit while making victims of people in our community.

When we stop a vehicle, we will check documents and make sure drivers are fit to drive. We may simply have a chat about vehicle safety or driving behaviour.

It’s what we do. Working hard to keep our roads safe is what I want my officers to do and it’s what the public want us to do. In Angus, I am pleased to say we are very good at it.

Indeed, in the last 12 months we have seized 196 vehicles on Angus roads that were being driven illegally.

Do you know how many complaints I received about the inconvenience caused? Not a single one. In fact, I received messages thanking my officers for their actions.

So, that’s it, the first message shared. You may not always agree with me, but I hope to give you my honest and impartial view in the months to come. Stay safe. Over and out for now.