Spring brings new challenges on our roads - Chief Inspector Jon Harris

It is a privilege to be writing this column as the Area Commander for Road Policing in the East of Scotland. My name is Chief Inspector Jon Harris and I have been doing this role for the past four months – and what a four month’s it has been.

New Road Policing Chief Inspector for the East, CI Jon Harris.
New Road Policing Chief Inspector for the East, CI Jon Harris.

I started my career in West Midlands Police, before transferring to Central Scotland Police in 2008. I worked in Falkirk, Grangemouth and Bo’ness as well as Road Policing in Stirling, before transferring to Glasgow just after the creation of Police Scotland. I returned to the East at the beginning of last year, working as a response policing inspector in West Lothian before being appointed to Road Policing last November.

As I look out the window whilst writing this and see blue skies and daffodils starting to pop through I reflect on the winter that has just been. Hopefully we leave behind the ice and snow and the darker morning and evening that can make our roads so treacherous. Unfortunately spring time brings with it fresh challenges for my colleagues in road policing and I would ask you all to play your part in the sensible sharing of our roadways.

I for one will be getting the motorbike out of the garage, carrying out some vehicle checks after a winter parked up and then look forward to getting out on the roads. However, I’ll also be mindful that not only will I be rusty after a few months out of the saddle, but other road users will need to get used to the sights and sounds of motorcycles again. Likewise bicycles, scooters, even roller skates that have been sitting over the cold dark winter will be dusted off, helmets and pads if you or your children wear them will be tied, Velcro-ed or buckled up and many more people will set off into the streets, parks and pavements of the city.

Please be mindful of the spaces that we share. Keep an eye out for the cyclist that may not have been there last week, or the child scooting across the road as Easter holidays approach and, of course, I would ask all road users to follow the road traffic laws that apply to them. This is especially true of the increasingly popular E-Scooters, which I feel I must remind you cannot be used in a public place, be that a road, pavement or park, they are restricted purely to private land with the land owners permission.

We continue to undertake a range of road policing operations on the Capital road network alongside a range of partners and while I know the presence of cops holding speed guns, or pulling vehicles over for random stops is not always a sight that goes down well with motorists, these activities are essential in helping us deter, identify and tackle criminality on our roads, while also keeping road users safe.

Looking forward, and, with the COVID restrictions now (hopefully) in the rear-view mirror, we can expect a busy summer in Edinburgh. Tourists will be returning in large numbers and they may be unfamiliar with our road signs, speed limits and motoring laws so this presents a challenge to us. In addition, we will have large events taking place again, such as The Royal Highland Show, the Tattoo and Festival, concerts and sporting events. All will draw large crowds and mean people will be travelling into and around the city.

Please help us by showing respect to other road users, look out for each other and whether you are walking, riding, wheeling or driving, please do so safely.

Chief Inspector Jon Harris