‘We have to draw a line somewhere’ says Falkirk’s top cop

Chief Inspector Damian Armstrong, Falkirk area commander
Chief Inspector Damian Armstrong, Falkirk area commander

Police Scotland’s Falkirk area commander told residents the force had to “draw a line somewhere” when it came to issues like traffic management at public events.

At a meeting of Grangemouth Community Council in the Community Education Unit, Abbots Road, last night Chief inspector Damian Armstrong confirmed Police Scotland’s stance on policing pre-planned events.

He said: “It’s a difficult situation, but we’ve got to draw the line somewhere in terms of what we can do and what we cannot do. We don’t have a legal responsibility for the closure of roads or the enforcement of traffic restrictions at pre-planned events.”

Chf Insp Armstrong said there had been no change in Police Scotland’s position regarding traffic management and the letter which the organisation sent to Falkirk Council last month just clarified the position.

He added: “It’s not a withdrawal by police. We make a risk assessment based on the events themselves. We don’t expect trouble at these events but we are prepared if there is any.”

Later in the meeting Chf Insp Armstrong admitted: “We are all struggling, as public services, with budgetary concerns.”

His statement comes in the same week Police Scotland was accused of washing its hands of its responsibilities by members of Falkirk Council.

They responded angrily to Police Scotland’s announcement it is not going to be carrying out traffic management duties at community events like gala days in the future – claiming it did not have the authority to enforce the law at such events.

The letter from Police Scotland, which the council received on April 22, stated: “It is acknowledged that previously police officers may have assisted organisers of such events by closing off roads, controlling traffic and generally ensuring the safety of the public for the duration of an event.

“This appears to have been done on goodwill and on an informal basis but without authority. Police Scotland has no desire to jeopardise the future of community events, but responsibility and activity must be restricted to and in keeping with the limitations of current legislation.”

Members heard the police do have authority to manage traffic when a “spontaneous” incident like a road accident happens – but not for pre-planned events.

The council is now undertaking a review of the council’s approach to these events and issues around costs will also be looked at. For the next six months the authority will not charge applicants the £725 it costs to make a Temporary Traffic Restriction Order (TTRO).

Director of development services Rhona Geisler said: “If the police are not going to regulate the traffic then the organisers have to apply to the council for a TTRO, then they have to have people physically in place to manage the traffic.

“Organisers will be required to provide relevant traffic management on the ground to ensure safety. Police Scotland will still have a presence at big events but they will only be there for the purpose of managing public order.”