Council needs a bigger say on police, says MSP

Police in action in the Borders
Police in action in the Borders

Police Scotland is being urged by Borders MSP John Lamont to give Scottish Borders Council more say over officer deployment across the region.

Figures have revealed that the council is paying Police Scotland £160,211 towards policing in the region, which covers the cost of four police officers for the area.

But since the new Scotland- wide force came into existence in April last year, there has been growing concern that local authorities have lost the power to influence how their areas are policed.

Lamont highlighted the fact that Edinburgh City Council has withdrawn millions of pounds of funding because it no longer has a say in how police officers are deployed.

Now he warns that as Scottish councils and private companies give over £9.3 million to hire extra police officers, if this funding was lost it would have a serious impact on the service.

However, SBC’s executive member for community safety, Councillor Donald Moffat, says the council is satisfied, so far, with the service the region gets from Police Scotland.

Councillor Moffat said: “Scottish Borders Council has service level agreements in place with Police Scotland regarding the deployment of funded officers, and is satisfied that these officers are undertaking duties in compliance with these and are deployed within the Scottish Borders.

“These officers undertake specialist duties to ensure that the Borders remains one of the safest places to live, work or visit within Scotland.”

Urging Police Scotland to give Scottish Borders Council more say over officer deployment to ensure that they are not forced to withdraw funding, Mr Lamont said: “Police Scotland’s budget is already under a huge amount of strain, and we have already seen them trying to cut services through the proposed closure of police desks throughout the Borders.

“We cannot afford to see frontline policing suffer any further, but fears are growing that they might need to cut millions more from their budget.

“The money provided by councils and private firms help to employ hundreds of officers throughout Scotland, but this funding is now coming under threat. Under the new single police force there is no guarantee that the money being spent will lead to better policing in the area the money came from.

“That is why Edinburgh Council have withdrawn millions in funding, and it will not be long before others join them.

“Scottish Borders Council currently employs the equivalent of four officers for the region, but they now have no guarantee that they will be deployed in our region.”

“We need the best policing force possible for the region, but this money could be spent in other areas where we could guarantee a benefit to Borders residents.”