Town centre security concerns after attack

A brutal attack at a Falkirk taxi rank has raised questions about whether enough is being spent on town centre security.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 20th April 2017, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 6:54 pm
A police forensic officer searches the scene in Lower Newmarket Street for evidence. Picture: Michael Gillen
A police forensic officer searches the scene in Lower Newmarket Street for evidence. Picture: Michael Gillen

A 34-year-old man was taken to hospital with a serious head injury after being assaulted in Lower Newmarket Street in the early hours of Monday morning.

It has been claimed that before the incident there was an “uncomfortable” atmosphere building in and around the town centre as groups congregated to celebrate Easter Sunday.

And there have been reports some taxi drivers, worried about what might happen later on, opted to quit their shift early.

Perhaps crucially, on Sunday night there were no taxi marshalls on duty at the town’s main taxi rank.

The service is operated by a private security firm hired by Falkirk Delivers, the town’s Business Improvement District (BID) and funded jointly by Falkirk Council and town centre traders.

Yesterday (Wednesday), Falkirk Delivers manager Alex Fleming admitted: “Monday morning’s event was very disturbing.

“You can never be 100 per cent sure, but had the marshalls been on duty I don’t imagine this would have happened.

“They have stewarded the rank every Friday and Saturday night for the last nine years and there has never been a serious incident. Nothing like this has ever happened. They are competent well trained professionals who do their job very well.”

She pointed out, however, the service depends on funding and added: “Possibly this is something that Falkirk Delivers can take up with the council and town centre businesses.”

The council contributes £20,000 a year to the taxi marshall bill. It also provides £10,000 to operate its ‘Safe Base’ scheme at Christmas and New Year which involves the ambulance service and Street Pastors helping keep revellers out of harms way - and £75,000 a year for a CCTV system in the town centre.

That was in operation in Lower Newmarket Street on Monday morning. Images are fed directly to Falkirk Police Station and monitored live at peak times. When live monitoring is not in place, the camera footage can be retrieved.

Tom Clements, boss of Specialised Security, said: “Since the introduction of taxi marshalls, incidents at the rank have dropped virtually to zero. I’m sure what happened on Monday will be flagged up at our next meeting with Falkirk Delivers.”

Following the incident at around 3.15am on Monday a 33-year-old man has been arrested and charged and a report sent to the Procurator Fiscal.

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “Enquiries are ongoing and we would like to thank the public for their assistance.”