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A while back I was reading one of Ian Rankine’s Rebus novels and it involved Rebus phoning a cop in Shetland. The cop was more Western Isles than Shetland in the way he spoke. I thought, wrong island group there chum. But I’d forgotten something. Many of the Shetland cops in the days of the old Northern  Constabulary were from the Skye, the Hebrides or very remote parts of the Western Highlands. There had been a problem with Big City cops raised among the bright lights of Inverness. They hated Shetland and they took it out on the locals. One of my colleagues at the Shetland Times once heard a couple of them as they got into their squad car declaring they would “Spill some Sheltie blood  tonight”. A few weeks after I went to Shetland to work I was back in Inverness for a couple of days and went with a pal to a local hostelry. The owner pointed out  a guy sitting at the bar with very fancy, very shiny, shoes and said he had just returned from the Shetland. It turned out he was cop. Oddly, my pal stayed at the other end of the bar and after I’d finished chatting with the cop I asked him why he hadn’t come across. It turned out he’d met the cop only a couple of days earlier. My mate told me that the cop had wanted to beat the crap out of him for no good reason and had only been restrained by an older wiser colleague. Anyway,the Northern Constabulary had decided only volunteers or cops from remoter regions  of the force area should be posted to Shetland.

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