POLICE and partners in the Wee County have launched Operation Christmas this week, focusing on festive safety.

The annual operation will be different in 2020, owing to the ongoing coronavirus restrictions.

Community policing Sergeant Cathy Sharkey, based at Alloa Police Station, told the Advertiser: "Historically, at this time of year we see an increase in shopping and retail footfall, online fraud, socialising, drink and drug driving as well as adverse weather conditions which causes its own issues.

"Undoubtedly, this year will be different due to the restrictions in place locally, but there's things we can do to ensure Clackmannanshire is a safe place to live, work or visit.

"With retail and business premises still open in Clackmannanshire, we will have an increased police presence in these areas to provide reassurance and advice to retailers, businesses and shoppers."

When it comes to home safety, people are being advised to ensure Christmas gifts and other valuables are stored out of sight, to lock all doors and windows securely – particularly when going to bed.

Residents are also asked to lock and secure sheds and vehicles to prevent opportunistic theft.

"Don't make it easy for them", added Sgt Sharkey.

People shopping online are being advised to only use reputable retailers and beware of bargains that seem "too good to be true".

The community policing sergeant added: "Do not advertise purchases or items within your home on social media and don't post that you're not at home.

"Do not provide any personal banking information to anyone over the phone or online."

Additional road policing patrols will be out, with motorists advised never to drink or take drugs when getting behind the wheel.

People should also be mindful about getting on the road if they have been drinking heavily the previous night.

Speaking of parties and socialising, Sgt Sharkey said: "Clearly this will be different this year; however, with the reduced restrictions during December 23-27 people will have social gatherings, where allowed.

"We encourage you to party safely; drink responsibly and know your limits; plan your journeys in advance and know how you are getting to and from your destination."

Mental health will also be a focus this year, with 2020 proving to be a "very difficult year for everyone".

People are encouraged to look out for one another and to keep in touch with neighbours who may not have any family.

Clackmannanshire Third Sector Interface continues to serve as a gateway to a wide range of support and services on 01259 213 840.

Despite coronavirus, officers in the Wee County remain committed to tackling domestic abuse.

Sgt Sharkey was joined by Provost Tina Murphy and Alloa First project manager Diane Brown as they launched the operation in partnership on Monday, November 30.

The community policing sergeant added: "Finally, we wish you all a very merry Christmas, however, urge you to adhere to the current Covid-19 restrictions so that together we can keep our communities of Clackmannanshire safe."