As Christmas approaches I have decided to focus this month’s column on the work your local community policing team undertakes along with our partners in order to keep people safe.
Christmas for most people is an enjoyable time and we would like to make sure it stays that way.
It is for this reason that each year in East Renfrewshire we run a winter initiative from December 1 until January 6.
This initiative seeks to ensure that extra officers are deployed on foot in prominent shopping areas. These officers are there not only to provide a visible deterrent to individuals intent on committing crime but also to help our most vulnerable residents to protect themselves.
We work alongside and coordinate our patrols with East Renfrewshire community wardens to have maximum visibility.
We visit local shops and businesses and provide them with security advice. The officers will engage with staff and offer common sense practical advice on steps they can take to protect themselves and the public.
If you are out shopping I would ask you to help us by looking after your bags and being aware where they are at all times, and keep them firmly closed at all times.
If using a cash machine please use machines that are located in well-lit areas and be aware of your surroundings and who may be close by.
Finally if you are leaving shopping and presents in the car please ensure that you lock them in the boot safely out of sight.
In terms of crime prevention advice to home owners and the wider public I would stress that thieves know it is Christmas too and are aware homes may contain high value presents.
It is more important than ever to ensure that windows and doors are locked, alarms are set and if possible lights are attached to a timer if you are going out.
Please do not leave gifts where they can be seen by somebody looking in your windows.
If you are shopping online please take the time to check that your web browser and internet security are up to date before you start shopping, and always check the payment page you are on is secure by checking for the padlock symbol in the url address, prior to entering card details.
The consequences of your banking security being compromised, but particularly at this time of year, makes it worth taking just that little bit of extra time to make these very simple checks.
My last point concerns Christmas parties. Much planning goes into organising these events and I think it’s important that everyone spends a little bit of time planning about how to get home safely at end of the evening. Police Scotland will have extra road policing units travelling both motorways and local trunk routes for those who may think a couple of drinks is a safe level. There is only one safe level - NO ALCOHOL!
When going out with friends it is important that you stick with them and look after each other. Don’t leave your drinks unattended at any time, keep them with you and in sight.
Remember party safe, shop safe, home safe and enjoy the festive period.