Chirnside man gets top police post

Assistant Chief Constable Lothian and Borders Police, Malcolm Graham
Assistant Chief Constable Lothian and Borders Police, Malcolm Graham

The Borderer who is among the highest ranked policemen in the new Scottish force says a new code of conduct will improve officer behaviour.

Malcolm Graham, originally from Chirnside, will become the country’s first assistant chief constable responsible for serious crime and public protection when the new national force comes into being on Monday.

But just over a month before the biggest changes ever to policing in the country, the service in the Borders was thrown into controversy when 21 members of G Division’s staff were investigated over racist and sexist emails.

However, Mr Graham said: “There is a new code of ethics being brought in as part of the single force introduction. “While there are a small number of individuals who sometimes let us down, in the main our officers work with integrity, fairness and respect for their colleagues and members of the public.

“Everyone, from the chief constable to the special constables, will be absolutely clear what standards are expected of them.”

Mr Graham says he is proud with his appointment as ACC, having risen from a humble Berwickshire background.

The 40-year-old joined Lothian and Borders Police in 1995, and served on the beat in Edinburgh and Galashiels before moving to the force’s CID unit. He was soon seconded to track down Scottish victims of the tsunami which devastated south east Asia in 2004 and was involved in a series of high profile murder investigations, including the conviction of serial killer Peter Tobin.

Promoted to head of the CID team in 2008, he also led the case against David Gilroy over the murder of Suzanne Pilley in 2012. Seven months as divisional commander for Edinburgh last year ended with Mr Graham’s appointment to ACC in January.

His new role includes leading murder wildlife and sexual crime investigations, the latter seeing an increasing number of offences taking place on the internet.

Mr Graham said: “It is a massive challenge, which ranges from abusive messages to grooming. People think the internet provides anonymity but it doesn’t. We have a number of ways to track people who are committing online crimes. Information Technology is constantly developing and we have to, also. Among the most important aspects is speaking with youngsters to make them aware of the dangers.”

Bird of prey poisonings fell from 16 to three last year, but Scotland’s wildlife unit will grow from eight full time staff to nine, plus six part-time officers.

He added: “Wildlife crime is different across the country from people stealing freshwater pearls to poaching and raptor kills. There are people who have different ideas but generally we find members of the public very willing to help.”

As for the future of the single force, Mr Graham told us: “Members of the public will see far greater equity. The Borders is a safe area with few serious crimes but if there is one, the single police force means a team who are accustomed to dealing with such crimes will be available to work with local officers, who can go into the local community to find out what happened.”