Flowers, champagne, gift vouchers and rock band T-shirts among items gifted to police

CHRISTMAS Day with its tidal wave of pressies is the one time of year most people can look forward to giving and receiving gifts.

But for serving officers at Lothian and Borders Police it seems the Christmas gift giving spirit is spread across the year – according to a newly-revealed register of all the weird and wonderful items gifted to the force.

During 2012 unique offerings made to the force included a box of bananas, a Swatch watch and T-shirts celebrating former Oasis star Noel Gallagher’s new band, High Flying Birds.

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A chief inspector also received a gift box containing a traditional Pakistani shawl and hat from Bakhtawar Bhutto, the student daughter of that country’s assassinated former leader, Benazir Bhutto, and its current leader, President Asif Ali Zardari.

However the official register of gifts also revealed how ordinary members of the public were among the most generous over the last year, with many stopping by police stations to offer a gift in thanks.

Presents from residents included a bottle of champagne, a bunch of flowers, a box of Maltesers and two £10 gift vouchers from Marks & Spencers.

Councillor Iain Whyte, police board convener, said while the list details the expected invitations to government receptions and official lunches, it is nice to see it recording instances where members of the public have been moved to show their gratitude.

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He said: “If members of the public are spontaneously handing in presents at their local police station for officers doing their everyday work for the community then that has to be welcomed. It’s a sign of public support for the work they do and reassurance that the police are making a difference.

“Obviously with other gifts, officers, particularly senior officers, have to attend certain events as part of their duties and are sometimes given gifts. I would encourage the force to ensure these gifts are recorded properly. This seems to happen and it is very encouraging that the force abides by the rules and has a strict enforcement of good practice.”

Senior officers were presented with a wide array of gifts over the course of the year.

Assistant Chief Constable Bill Skelly was given a Swatch watch, courtesy of the Swiss Criminalistic Society, while fellow assistant chief constable Graham Sinclair received an invite to a charity golf outing from software firm Kelvin Connect.

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Chief Constable David Strang was given a scarf, though the register of gifts, released under freedom of information laws, records the giver as “unknown”.

Superintendent Kevin Murray was given an ornament by fellow police officers from China, a country renowned for its gift-giving, while its neighbour and rival Taiwan offered a bottle of whisky on behalf of its consulate.

Alcohol was frequently the order of the day, with St Mary’s Cathedral giving four bottles of wine, and Edinburgh Airport bestowing another bottle of whisky.

Not to be outdone, two unknown members of the public handed in a half bottle of Stag’s Breath Liqueur and a whisky miniature.

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A police spokesman said: “If gifts are considered to represent some form of benefit to an individual, this will be recorded in our hospitality register.”

The four T-shirts from Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds were given to the force by security personnel on duty at the band’s July gig at Edinburgh Castle.

A total of 48 gifts to the force were recorded since January.