IN line with national trends, the number of police officers on the beat in the Borders is in a healthy position going into the period of reform which will see all eight of Scotland’s forces merged.
The latest Police Officer Quarterly Strength Statistics show that as of June 30 there were 17,373 officers serving in Scotland, an increase of 1,139 from the position at March 31 2007, the baseline for the SNP’s pledge to deliver 1,000 extra officers nationwide.
In the Borders the figure stands at 236, an increase of seven officers from the same time last year and 13 higher than the 2003 figure of 223.
Superintendent Local Commander for the Scottish Borders, Andrew Allan, said he felt it was important that as the force draws nearer to the big changes that are afoot, that he had strength in numbers.
“The figures show that Lothian and Borders are maintaining recruitment numbers before the reform.
“As with any big changes there will be concerns over a possible dip in standards so it’s good to be in a healthy position and have a bit of resilience. Without wanting to get too political the SNP have stood by their promise to deliver 1,000 extra officers. When I was based in the force area from 2003-5 there were only 223 officers.
“Having more officers at our disposal has allowed us to increase the number of community beat officers from 6 to 18. These officers, together with our local integration officers who are part funded by Scottish Borders Council, have been instrumental in reducing youth crime and anti-social behaviour which are two areas which will always be a focus for Lothian and Borders Police!
For the Lothian and Borders force area as a whole the number of officers currently employed stands at 2,970, the same figure as the end of last year, a significant increase on the 2,926 on duty this time last year and nearly 200 more than this time seven years ago.
Addressing the situation, nationally Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: ”Our communities are becoming safer - fear of crime is down, recorded crime is at its lowest level for 37 years and the risk of being a victim of crime is falling, backed by the additional officers policing our towns, villages and cities.
”Meanwhile in England and Wales officer numbers are now at their lowest level since 2003, falling by over 9,600 in the two years since March 2010 and expected to drop by 16,000 in total. We will not let this happen here. Our plans for reform will ensure that the new Police Service of Scotland continues to protect frontline policing for all of our communities, keeping our streets safe and our people protected.”