Concern at undisclosed police cover

You can contact the police on Bute by dialling 101, Police Scotland's non-emergency contact number, and asking for Rothesay police office.
You can contact the police on Bute by dialling 101, Police Scotland's non-emergency contact number, and asking for Rothesay police office.

The issue of police coverage in the Borders since the inception nearly two years ago of a single Scottish force is to be aired by councillors next month.

“It is clearly a matter of concern both within and outwith the force and we, as elected representatives, need answers on behalf of the people we serve,” said Councillor Sandy Aitchison, a member of the local Police, Fire Service and Safer Communities Board.

He was responding to a claim by retired police officer Harry Scott that one area of the region once policed by 14 officers is now mostly covered by just four and sometimes only two.

The allegation comes in a letter from Mr Scott to Marion Keyse, head of enforcement with the Scottish Information Commissioner (SIC).

Believing that local manning levels had been cut since the advent of Police Scotland, Mr Scott last year used Freedom of Information legislation to ask the new body for the number, rank and designation of officers deployed at stations in the Borders –the former G division of what was Lothian and Borders Police – on 14 shifts over a specified seven weeks.

He was told by Police Scotland there were “approximately 150 officers” based in the region, but the detailed information he demanded, although historical, was withheld.

The force said that divulging such details could prejudice the prevention and detection of crime – a position upheld by the watchdog SIC in November following an investigation.

In his letter to Ms Keyse, Mr Scott says he does not expect the decision to be reversed, but claims the reasons cited for non-disclosure by Police Scotland were “based on supposition with no credible evidence base”.

“I am surprised and disappointed that the Commissioner should be taken in by the spurious arguments of Police Scotland whose non-disclosure is more to do with their embarrassment at the mismanagement of resources and the lack of police cover provided to the people of the Scottish Borders,” writes Mr Scott.