Balloch Baywatch: police target boozed-up thugs in crackdown

BOOZED-UP thugs intent on causing mayhem at a famous beauty spot are to be targeted as part of a police crackdown.

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  • Police are to crack down on drink-fuelled thugs at Loch Lomond
    Police are to crack down on drink-fuelled thugs at Loch Lomond
  • Police are to crack down on drink-fuelled thugs at Loch Lomond
  • Police are to crack down on drink-fuelled thugs at Loch Lomond
  • Police are to crack down on drink-fuelled thugs at Loch Lomond
  • Police are to crack down on drink-fuelled thugs at Loch Lomond

A dedicated team of officers today launched a major operation on trouble-makers who flock to picturesque Loch Lomond.

The squad - the only one of its kind in Scotland - will target offences ranging from violence and drug misuse to anti-social behaviour and public drinking.

As temperatures are set to soar this bank holiday weekend, cops vowed to stop yobs from terrorising families.

Inspector Neil Smith, who is leading the operation, said: "Scotland's beautiful countryside is renowned.

"And tourists will once again flock to this area during the summer.

"It's important to think about the image we are portraying.

"The last thing they want to see when they arrive at Loch Lomond is a group of 15 or 20 people swigging alcohol. Drink in the scenery -not too much booze."

The crackdown, part of Operation Ironworks, aims to stop violence, disorder and anti-social behaviour in the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park.

Police also vowed to target gangsters involved in serious and organised crime.

Sergeant Andy McGarvey said: "Like high-value fast cars, organised crime gangs spend their money on high-value boats.

"Criminals have access to boats - sometimes even stolen boats - and use them on the loch.

"This gives us the perfect opportunity to speak to those involved in organised crime and let them know we are in the area."

Littering and illegal campfires are also problems that will be tackled during the six-month operation.

Inspector Neil Smith, added: "The minority spoil it for the majority.

"We all want to enjoy the beauty, which is on our doorstep, and we all want to do so without fear or disturbance.

"Unfortunately, some people come to this spot and drink too much, this then leads to disorder, not only ruining it for themselves, but for others who have come to admire the beautiful surroundings."

High-profile foot patrols by police, National Park Rangers, officers from the police marine unit and dog section and will be active in the area during the operation.

The National Park's dedicated police officer, PC Paul Barr, will lead various initiatives targeting anti-social behaviour - which is often alcohol-fuelled.

Tough policing plans will see officers tackle irresponsible fires, litter, road safety, wildlife and environmental crimes and noise disturbance.

PC Barr said: "Balloch, Luss and the shores of the loch will continue to be the focus of anti-disorder patrols throughout the summer months."

He will be joined by park rangers Leigh Hamilton and David Tollan for atrols of the loch and islands.

"We would far rather prevent incidents, stop them happening in the first place, than simply react," added PC Barr.

"People all come out at the one time to enjoy the weather, there is a huge influx of people, and we have to be ready."

Thousands of visitors are attracted to the beauty of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs every year.

Police will join park rangers on foot patrols as well as boat patrols around the loch.

Team leader Leigh said: "The majority of people just need a bit of guidance.

"It is a small minority that come and cause trouble and disrupt the peace for everyone else.

"Ultimately, we want people to stay safe - on water and on land."

Officers will carry out high-profile patrols during Operation Ironworks in a bid to make the area safer for families.

Inspector Smith added: "From a policing point of view, it's all about planning ahead.

"We have all the resources, but what we need to do is strike the right balance between local policing and dealing with this huge influx of visitors.

"The single force allows us to police the loch and surrounding areas in a more co-ordinated way.

"I would encourage as many people as possible to come to the area. We just want you to behave responsibly.

"Our aim is to ensure the area continues to be safe and enjoyable for everyone."

rebecca.gray@eveningtimes.co.uk

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