Ian McNeish was born in 1946, in Falkirk. That not only made him a Bairn, but also a Bulge Baby. His formative years in the post-War period were spent in Bonnybridge then Balloch. His early employment was with Carron Ironworks in Falkirk and then Ferranti Limited in Edinburgh, before heading south for a time to Cosser Electronics where he worked as an Organisation and Methods Officer in the electronic manufacturing sector. He then came back home to a job with Aberdeenshire County Council where, in addition to examining work methods and producing detailed project management reports, he also liaised with staff, unions and management.
In 1974 Ian joined Ross and Sutherland Constabulary, and in seven months was trusted to police in a single station officer role within a rural area of Scotland with a population of six thousand people. In 1978 Ian transferred to Central Scotland Police where he rose to the rank of Chief Inspector, before retiring in 2004.
In the police service Ian gained a Higher National Certificate in police studies, as well as a certificate on Strategic Investigation and a certificate on Structured Debriefing. He is a trained Emergencies Planning officer and successfully completed his Strategic Chief Inspector’s course at the Scottish Police College. He trained at the Home Office Crime Prevention Centre, and gained certificates in Crime Prevention and Community Safety as well as Architectural Liaison and Designing Out Crime.
In 1992 Ian was seconded to work within the Policy Unit of Central Regional Council to develop a strategy on community safety, the first officer to take on that role within a Regional Council in Scotland. The strategy, entitled ‘Switched on to Safety’, was successful and recognised by the Secretary of State for Scotland’s Advisory Group on Sustainable Development. It was highlighted in the white paper ‘This Common Inheritance, 1996’. The strategy was further recognised by the UK National Council for the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements as one of the top Best Practice examples in the UK and presented at the Habitat ll, United Nations City Summit Conference in Istanbul in June 1996.
On returning to the force, Ian continued his career in Falkirk and then as Local Unit Commander based in Bo’ness. He was promoted to Officer in Charge of Community Safety at Police Headquarters, and took charge of the force’s Safety in Communities strategy with particular responsibility for Youth Crime, Safety in Communities, Diversity, Drug Education and liaison with partner agencies, Victims of Crime, and general Crime Prevention issues.
In that role, Ian acted as senior police advisor to the Scottish Office Environment Department when they put together and published their Planning Advice Note 46, entitled ‘Planning For Crime Prevention’. He was also responsible for planning and writing the booklet on women’s safety entitled Talking Sense/Seeing Sense, and advising the Scottish Office on production of the video of the same name. 300,000 copies of the booklet were printed, as well as scores of the video, for use throughout Scotland.
On leaving the police service, Ian set up his own company advising small businesses on policy issues as well as carrying out investigations on employment disputes and preparing reports. Ian has also chaired several internal discipline hearings and produced written judgements. He also was Chairman of the board of Signpost Recovery, and for about eighteen months managed the project.
As a consequence of the foregoing he has amassed a wealth of experience carrying out investigations and producing reports for the criminal justice system and the internal police discipline system, as well as strategic reports and latterly reports and judgements of disputes in the employment arena. Ian has also carried several in-depth investigations involving employment disputes and reported his findings to an employment lawyer.
Ian was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 2019. Fellowship is only awarded to those who can demonstrate that they have made significant contributions to social change, progress and development, and who support the RSA's mission to find practical solutions to social challenges. RSA Fellows include leading activists, artists, writers and journalists who have made noteworthy contributions to their fields.
His spare time is taken up with mountaineering, for a time being in Mountain Rescue. He has found time to ascend Mont Blanc and climb all the Munros. He also cycles and has some long distance treks to his name, including cycling from Edinburgh to Paris. He plays competitive curling and also coaches beginners. He did play golf, but cut back on that as he could not spare the time. He has a family: three boys and six grandchildren. When he is not employed with any or all of the above, he writes.