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Top cop's Belladrum plea


By Hector MacKenzie



Police say public safety is their top priority ahead of the eagerly anticipated Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival
Police say public safety is their top priority ahead of the eagerly anticipated Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival

PARENTS planning dropping children off at this year's Belladrum bash have been given a no-nonsense piece of advice: "Don't".

The officer in charge of policing at the sold-out Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival says cops have plans in place to ensure public safety at the two-day event which begins on August 5.

With headliners Deacon Blue and Texas and a line-up featuring some of the hippest acts around, the event has been totally sold out for several weeks.

Typically well-attended by revellers from Ross-shire, Belladrum has become established as a family friendly affair - despite police concerns about under-age drinking and antisocial behaviour.

Event commander, Acting Superintendent Jim Neil insisted this week that safety is his top priority.

He said, "Belladrum 2011 has been sold out for some weeks now and it will be well policed to ensure revellers enjoy themselves without compromising their own safety and the safety of others.

"As with Rockness we will be employing our tried and tested community based approach to policing, which has served us well at similar and bigger events in the past.

"There is definitely a different dynamic at Belladrum, particularly given the fact there are more families and a wider age range of those attending."

Officers will be dealing robustly with incidents of underage drinking and anyone under 18 found in possession of alcohol will have it removed from them and it will be disposed of.

Police are also reminding parents of youngsters, under 16, that they should be attending the event with their children -not dropping them off and expecting police and other partner agencies to look after them.

This year's impending Tartan Heart festival at Belladrum is another sell-out
This year's impending Tartan Heart festival at Belladrum is another sell-out

In previous years police and other agencies have discovered a number of under-16 youngsters who have been "worse for wear". Many say they were dropped off by their parents who were not even at the event.

Acting Supt Neil said, "Although we are responsible for public safety it is parents who are responsible for the safety and welfare of their children and they must ensure that youngsters are accompanied by an appropriate adult.

"Parents of any child who are found without supervision will be contacted and asked to uplift them from the event."

He is also urging revellers not to drink to excess during the weekend and risk spoiling the event for themselves or others. Any instances of antisocial behaviour will be dealt with by police or stewards. Offenders will be ejected or in the more serious cases arrested.

The Staves - one of the eagerly anticipated acts at this year's Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival
The Staves - one of the eagerly anticipated acts at this year's Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival

He said, "Belladrum is a family oriented festival which has proved to be very enjoyable for those who have attended in the past and we want to maintain that as people have paid hard-earned cash to purchase their tickets. We urge people to moderate their behaviour."

Police will adopt a pro-active approach to drugs at the event and again members of the public are asked to report any instances of drug dealing or suspicious activity to the nearest police officer.

Last year saw a number of incidents which involved youngsters attempting to scale fences to gain entry to the event. Police and stewards say they will deal "robustly" with any such activity this year. Anyone caught could face detention and be the subject of a report to the Procurator Fiscal.

Due to the ever changing Highland climate, police are also advising revellers to bring suitable clothing for all types of weather to protect them from the wet, cold or heat.

The lost property section will again be operating at this year's festival though police have advised people to wait at least a two days after the event before inquiring about lost property. This is to allow time for items to be returned to Burnett Road police station in Inverness. It is the first time that all lost property will be taken to the station for collection.

Acting Supt Neil said, "We hope this year's Belladrum festival is as successful as previous years and Northern Constabulary and its partner agencies will be there to promote and maximise public safety. We want revellers to make the most of their weekend, have fun and stay safe."

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