Top cop's high hopes for city
DUNFERMLINE'S top cop is hitting the heights after once being considered too small to join the force.
Angela McLaren (38) has proved size doesn't matter after working her way up to become the city's new chief inspector.
But it wouldn't have been possible 20 years ago due to archaic rules that effectively barred her from pursuing her chosen career.
CI McLaren said, "I wanted to join the police before I went to University in Dundee but I was too small as they had a height restriction back then.
"It was 5 ft 4 and I'm 5 ft 3, I think it was 5 ft 10 for the men, so I started out to become a quantity surveyor.
"But they later lifted the restrictions, so I applied as soon as I left university and joined in 1996.
"It's an old cliche but it is a job that is different every day and I didn't want to be chained to a desk all the time."
Brought up near Anstruther, she attended Waid Academy before university and is now married with two children and living in Dunfermline.
Her early days in the force saw her patrolling in north east Fife and she progressed from the criminal justice department at Fife police HQ through to a secondment looking at change in Scottish policing.
CI McLaren said, "The way crimes are committed is always evolving but the basics for the police never change, its all about locking up the bad guys and helping the victims of crime.
"Policing will always have new challenges but that's one of the reasons you join.
"But the best bit about the job remains helping people and making a difference to their life, or preventing crime from happening in the first place."
Her career took her to the role of contact centre inspector before becoming an inspector in Dunfermline and chief inspector at South West Fife.
She said, "What makes a good police officer is someone who is positive, genuine and wants to go out there and make a positive difference to people's lives."
Dunfermline's new chief wants to improve on the success of the community engagement model - where the public tell the police what the crime priorities for their area are - and she's taking the lead on improving the initiative further.
CI McLaren said, "I know my predecessor Bob Baker and community inspector Phil Davison have been here for a long time and have a real understanding for the town.
"They were really keen to concentrate on things that matter to people, whether that's anti-social behaviour or feeling safe in the town centre, and that's something I want to keep and build upon.
"I'm not here to change things for the sake of it, if anything I want to keep that stability as we move towards a single force so people don't feel there's a difference.
"With the single force, I want Dunfermline to have a smooth transition and it's important that people know they'll still be dealing with the same officers, the same faces and they can still go to them."
She continued, "We've seen a huge reduction in crime across Fife and in Dunfermline, detection rates are increasing but at the same time I know that's not much reassurance to the victim of crime, anti-social behaviour or the person who has drug dealing in their street.
"But, again, we need people to speak to us as we can only deal with what we know about.
"We are here to listen, whether at a community engagement meeting, on the phone, via email or when you meet us in the street."
CI McLaren said having "two almost-teenagers" brings balance to her life and she's just 'mum' when she goes home at night.
She also wants her officers to engage with young people and influence their lives for the better rather "than just chasing them from one street to the other".
Part of that approach is through partnership and she said a number of agencies were working together to help Dunfermline be the best it can be.
She said, "When you live in the town you have a personal interest as well as a professional interest in it and there's a lot going on in Dunfermline.
"There are people who want to make real improvements here and when you have a good environment people want to look after it and take pride in the place they live and work."
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Oct 26, 19:07
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