THE discovery of a syringe in a public park is one of the issues of concern not being reported to police amid falling confidence in the force, a public meeting has heard.

North Ayrshire councillors spoke of increasing frustration among members of the public at not being able to get through to Police Scotland and about low level crime not being reported.

But police chiefs said they were determined to turn that drop in confidence around.

Members of North Ayrshire Council's police and fire and rescue committee quizzed Ayrshire divisional commander Raymond Higgins on his officers' work in the area at their latest meeting - held after a survey revealing that confidence in the force has fallen across North Ayrshire.


Committee chair Donald Reid (Labour, Kilwinning) claimed that calls were being left unanswered and Cllr Jean McClung (SNP, Saltcoats and Stevenston) and Angela Stephen (Conservative, Irvine East) both spoke of issues raised through constituents.

The survey revealed that just 19.86 per cent of people felt 'very safe' and 55.61 per cent 'fairly safe' in North Ayrshire.

Asked about their concerns about crime, 22.47 per cent of those who took part in the survey said they felt crime had increased a little, and 55.61 per cent believed it had increased a lot.

Cllr Reid told Chief Superintendent Higgins:  “The public can’t get through to you and they won’t report low level crime. After an hour I think most people would give up.  

“People say in the survey they are more concerned about increasing levels of crime. Is there a message we can put out there that if crimes are reported they will be investigated?

“The bigger picture is about how long does it take for 101 to be answered and the reassurance that when you phone it there will be some progress.”

Cllr McClung said she had a letter from a constituent who complained about poor police response time, poor police engagement and very poor investigation.

Cllr Stephens added: “I am in Irvine East and a lot of things are going on in the local park, people are saying to me.

"I ask them if they are going to report it to the police, but a lot of them say no.

“There was a syringe found the other day in the park at Bourtreehill. I told the person that I hoped they hadn’t touched it and and did they contact the police. They said no."

Chief Superintendent Raymond Higgins said: “I can say hand on heart my officers want to go out there supporting communities. There are challenges, and have been challenges, particularly since Covid, in terms of abstraction to non-core police duties.

“It is a real focus of mine, and the chief officers and the teams, to get back to what primarily we believe are policing roles –  that only police can do.

“We want to know and understand and be focused. We are really keen to be out there so that in 12 months, you will feel safer.

"That includes support if there are concerns in your park. I hope you will see more yellow jackets walking about. 

“We want to increase that confidence.”