End of the road

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EAST Renfrewshire’s top cop is to hang up his truncheon after more than 31 years as a police officer.

But the outgoing area commander has warned that Strathclyde police’s problems are “here for the long haul”.

He told The Extra: “Police are asked to do more for less and morale is very low.

“The force is being squeezed from both ends through a recruitment freeze and losing vast amounts of experience because of retirement.

“I can’t see the budget constraints getting better any time soon ” .

The departing officer has been with the Glasgow South and East Renfrewshire division since 2005.

In a time when Strathclyde police is cutting back, Mr Graham believes his legacy will be more bobbies on the beat. The 58-year-old said: “I have increased community officers in the area from 37 to 55, and public reassurance has improved.

“Crime in East Renfrewshire is down because I listened to the public who wanted officers on the street, not behind a desk”.

An example that Mr Graham sites about listening to the community is Stamperland, where he tackled anti-social behaviour by saturating the area with police officers.

Mr Graham added: “The public perception is of high crime but that is not true – East Ren is regarded as the safest place in Strathclyde to live”.

Despite the budgetary pressures, Mr Graham believes “officers take it in their stride and continue to provide a top class service. “I won’t miss the job but I will miss the people”.

Once his days with the force are finished on February 28, Mr Graham will return to his first love - football.

Prior to joining the police, he played for St Mirren and now he has accepted a job as a youth development coach.

He remained involved with the sport during the last three decades, recently heading policing at both Ibrox and Hampden and he accompanied teams on away trips to assist with law enforcement of travelling fans.

The officer was at one point responsible for investigating a number of murders while a CID officer, including such high profile cases as Mark Scott and Arthur Thompson junior.

He will leave his imprint on Scottish policing forces as he authoured the manual for probationary constables in Scotland.

He is being replaced by Chief Inspector Alan Murray, who is currently the Area Commander for Linn and Langside.