INVERCLYDE'S local police commander is leaving her post today with a 'heavy heart' after nearly two-and-a-half years of 'never being off duty' for the people of her home district.

Chief Inspector Debbie Reilly is to become Superintendent Reilly on Monday morning when she takes up a new role in Police Scotland's professional standards department.

She says she will take cherished memories of her tenure, as well as best wishes from the colleagues who have worked with her.

The chief inspector departs Inverclyde at a time when officers have made a series of significant arrests in quick succession as part of the Operation Tell inquiry into a spate of petrol bombings in the town.

She has also inspired young people to actively pursue a career in the police service through talks she has given to students in local secondary schools.

Chief Inspector Reilly said: "Being given the opportunity to be an area commander in the town that you live in, and love, is both a massive honour and a big challenge.

"If I'm honest I've never been off duty since the day I took up this role.

"You feel a sense of responsibility 24 hours a day."

The senior officer's new role will be at force HQ.

The chief inspector said: "I've been given an opportunity to take on the role of superintendent in professional standards.

"It was a career development opportunity that was put my way and I did a lot of reflection and consultation with colleagues and family and decided that this was the right time to go.

"Whilst it's a great opportunity I do leave with some reluctance because I know all the challenges that Inverclyde has."

She said the district often 'gets painted in a bad light' but there is 'so much more good' here.

Chief Inspector Reilly said: "Policing is not all about arresting and bringing folk to justice, there's so many aspects to policing, particularly community policing.

"Those wee acts of kindness towards officers and acts of kindness that we show towards members of the public that are immeasurable.

"My frustration is that we don't often get to showcase everything that we do.

"We'll always have our critics, sometimes we get it wrong but we actually get it right more often than we get it wrong."

The chief inspector said that feedback from her recent talks at St Columba's and Notre Dame high schools was 'incredible'.

She said: "There's one or two young people who, on the back of those, are now taking active steps to join the police.

"That is music to my ears, to think you've inspired a young person to join the police.

"For me that's fantastic."

Chief Inspector Reilly added: "It's really all about our communities and I think I've not only listened to concerns but we've taken action, whether it be high profile incidents or low profile ones.

"I'm pleased to be leaving on the back of some real successes in Operation Tell, and when I say successes there's been arrests.

"That's again a demonstration to the public that we will continue to carry out enquiries and we'll relentlessly pursue criminals."

Ch Insp Reilly praised her team for their dedication to keeping people safe, and members of the public and partner agencies for their key co-operation.

She said: "None of this would have been possible without the hard work, determination and professionalism of the officers and the public playing their part, because we can't make these arrests without the public co-operation.

"I've worked really hard to maintain public trust and confidence and I believe I've achieved it.

"Achievements are not really down to me, they're down to the support from colleagues and partners, including Inverclyde Council, the fire and ambulance service and also the Greenock Telegraph.

"I do leave with a heavy heart, I have to say."

*Chief Inspector Paul Cameron will become Inverclyde's new area commander on Monday, when the Telegraph will be publishing an exclusive interview with him.