'It's all about the community', the words of Kenneth Ross, Chief Constable of Ross and Sutherland Constabulary, guided Ian McNeish through thirty years of police service. They were true then, back in 1974, and they are true now.
Ian held a police warrant card for three decades, serving communities across Scotland. In that time, his work saw him moving from the northerly constabulary where he policed the rural Hill of Fearn to the social challenges that presented themselves amongst the urban landscape of Central Scotland.
From his formative years in post-War Scotland through to his application to join the police service, Ian has led a rich and varied professional life that ranged from working in iron foundries to building electronic parts for the Kestrel Jump Jet and legendary Concorde aircraft. But once he had joined the police service, he found himself faced with a whole new range of life-changing experiences - some of them surprising, a few even shocking, but all of them memorable.
Leading the reader through his involvement in front line situations, Ian explains the effects of anti-social behaviour and attending criminal court appearances, in addition to dealing with death and the responsibilities of informing those left behind. He considers topics such as ethics, public interest, police and firearms, drug issues, causes of crime, and a lot more besides.
In a career where his duties ranged from policing national strikes to providing comfort and support through personal tragedies, Ian advanced through the ranks and saw first-hand the vital importance of effective management and good teamwork. Whether as the 'Fearn Bobby', policing a remote countryside outpost, as a seconded officer working for the Chief Executive of a Regional Council, or as a Local Unit Commander in Bo'ness, Ian always recognised the importance of putting the community first. Comparing today's policing techniques with his own professional experiences and examining both the good times and the harrowing pitfalls of the job, his account of life in the force is heartfelt, entertaining, and always completely honest.
Ian McNeish was born in 1946, in Falkirk. That not only made him a Bairn, but also a Bulge Baby. His formative years in the post-War period were spent in Bonnybridge then Balloch. His early employment was with Carron Ironworks in Falkirk and then Ferranti Limited in Edinburgh, before heading south for a time to Cosser Electronics where he worked as an Organisation and Methods Officer in the electronic manufacturing sector. He then came back home to a job with Aberdeenshire County Council where, in addition to examining work methods and producing detailed project management reports, he also liaised with staff, unions and management. In 1974 Ian joined Ross and Sutherland Constabulary, and in seven months was trusted to police in a single station officer role within a rural area of Scotland with a population of six thousand people. In 1978 Ian transferred to Central Scotland Police where he rose to the rank of Chief Inspector, before retiring in 2004. In 1992 Ian was seconded to work within the Policy Unit of Central Regional Council to develop a strategy on community safety, the first officer to take on that role within a Regional Council in Scotland. The strategy, entitled 'Switched on to Safety', was successful and recognised by the Secretary of State for Scotland's Advisory Group on Sustainable Development. It was highlighted in the white paper 'This Common Inheritance, 1996'. The strategy was further recognised by the UK National Council for the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements as one of the top Best Practice examples in the UK and presented at the Habitat ll, United Nations City Summit Conference in Istanbul in June 1996. On returning to the force, Ian continued his career in Falkirk and then as Local Unit Commander based in Bo'ness. He was promoted to Officer in Charge of Community Safety at Police Headquarters, and took charge of the force's Safety in Communities strategy with particular responsibility for Youth Crime, Safety in Communities, Diversity, Drug Education and liaison with partner agencies, Victims of Crime, and general Crime Prevention issues. In that role, Ian acted as senior police advisor to the Scottish Office Environment Department when they put together and published their Planning Advice Note 46, entitled 'Planning For Crime Prevention'. He was also responsible for planning and writing the booklet on women's safety entitled Talking Sense/Seeing Sense, and advising the Scottish Office on production of the video of the same name. 300,000 copies of the booklet were printed, as well as scores of the video, for use throughout Scotland. On leaving the police service, Ian set up his own company advising small businesses on policy issues as well as carrying out investigations on employment disputes and preparing reports. Ian has also chaired several internal discipline hearings and produced written judgements. He also was Chairman of the board of Signpost Recovery, and for about eighteen months managed the project. As a consequence of the foregoing he has amassed a wealth of experience carrying out investigations and producing reports for the criminal justice system and the internal police discipline system, as well as strategic reports and latterly reports and judgements of disputes in the employment arena. Ian has also carried several in-depth investigations involving employment disputes and reported his findings to an employment lawyer. His spare time is taken up with mountaineering, for a time being in Mountain Rescue. He has found time to ascend Mont Blanc and climb all the Munros. He also cycles and has some long distance treks to his name, including cycling from Edinburgh to Paris. He plays competitive curling and also coaches beginners. He did play golf, but cut back on that as he could not spare the time. He has a family: three boys and six grandchildren. When he is not employed with any or all of the above, he writes.