THE Kingdom’s new top cop has taken up his post and told West Fifers that “in many ways you have never been safer”. 

Divisional Commander of Fife, Derek McEwan, said policing has changed since he started in 1994 but the “desire to catch criminals” was as strong as ever. 

He has replaced Chief Superintendent Colin Gall, who has retired, and insisted that the picture had improved since he first took to the beat. 

Mr McEwan said: “Since I joined the police, there have been significant reductions in crime.

“You are at far less risk now of being assaulted in public or having your home or car broken into.

“In many ways, you have never been safer. 

“Whilst new and emerging crime types, typically committed in the virtual world, have an ever increasing part to play, through the national expertise Police Scotland can now call upon, we are increasingly better able to adapt and tackle these issues.”

However, he also said the force can’t solve all of society’s problems and that years in the job had shown him the “strong and enduring impact of vulnerability, inequality and deprivation as it relates to perpetrators and victims of crime.

He said: “This is not new to me but in my, now rather long, career in policing, I have had the opportunity to witness first-hand the inter-generational impact. 

“It drives home an appreciation that the answers don’t lie in enforcement alone and that we, as a police division, present only part of the solution.”

Mr McEwan said his new role was a “great privilege” and recalled the start of his career as a 16-year-old police cadet in Fife as a vocation, following in the footsteps of his father – a retired Chief Superintendent of Fife Constabulary – his brother, a serving officer with Police Scotland, and uncle, who was an officer with the Metropolitan Police. 

He added: “I was motivated by the sense of purpose that came from catching criminals and preventing them from further offending. 

“It was that enthusiasm for investigation and the pursuit of detecting crime that led me down a path to divisional CID and a role I loved.”

Mr McEwan said the job has changed in his 24 years: “As a young officer, we policed the public space, we reacted and responded. In my career, the values of policing have not changed in that we still need to police with the consent of our communities. 

“However, we need to adapt as the world changes and I have seen a shift in our approach as we operate ever more in the private space, protecting people from violence and abuse in their homes and in cyber space.” 

As well as responding to crime, there is a greater emphasis on predicting and intervening to prevent offences happening in the first place. 

As divisional commander, Mr McEwan said his key aims and priorities would include “strong and capable” officers to support communities, driving down violent crime and anti-social behaviour, protecting people and their property, listening and responding to local needs, diverting young people away from crime and early intervention to protect vulnerable Fifers. 

He said the Fife division was responding to different demands with the creation of a risk and concern hub, a change in the way they deal with missing people and the replacement of the “ageing Fife public space CCTV” with one of the most modern systems in the UK.

The force has also closed a number of stations, in a ‘reshaping’ of the police estate, and said they were looking at “locating within secondary schools” and sharing their buildings – with the Scottish Court Service set to relocate some of their services into Kirkcaldy Police Station.

However, Mr McEwan said local teams “are at the heart of policing in Fife” and added: “It is those officers who listen to your concerns and work to resolve them, who respond to your emergencies any time of the day or night and who work in the most challenging circumstances you might imagine. 

“Your local policing teams are alive to the issues that matter in your area and do their very best to respond, whether it be nuisance off road motorbikes, public space disorder and vandalism or noise nuisance in your street.”

He paid tribute to the officers in Fife Division and concluded: “The passion, dedication and commitment these officers and staff display to the communities of Fife is at a level I have not seen in my 24 years of policing.

"Yes, policing is a challenge, it always has been and always will be and quite rightly so. 

“Speaking as a resident of Fife with a vested interest, rest assured that the officers and staff of Fife Division do their absolute utmost to keep us all safe.”