Domestic abuse reports rise

THE Borders’ highest-ranked policeman expects the number of domestic abuse reports in the region to rise this year, writes Kenny Paterson.

Figures in an Accounts Commission report into policing values and performances across Scotland showed violence in the home has increased during the last three years in the Lothian and Borders force area. There were more than 100 incidents per 10,000 of the population in 2011/12, and Superintendent Andrew Allan, G Division’s area commander, has acknowledged the problem.

He told TheSouthern: “Domestic violence is a clear issue in the Borders.

“It is an area where even in the coming year, I would expect another rise in reported incidents.

“There will be a media launch next month of a considerable improvement in local multi-agency service. While in the long-term that should reduce domestic violence, in the short term it may increase the reporting of it.”

Racially-aggravated crimes sharply increased to 18 per 100,000 last year, and Superintendent Allan added: “Our recent public perception survey showed that race and hate crime is under-reported by perhaps 50 per cent.

“So while we are working hard to reduce it, sometimes a consequence of our improved contacts with communities is an increasing confidence to report crimes.

“We review all hate crimes with an independent lay adviser and this provides a valuable check and external view on how we deal with this important and emotive issue.”

Other results showed antisocial behaviour reports have almost halved in the last four years, while Lothian and Borders was one of only three Scottish police forces to see a reduction in road traffic offences.

Superintendent Allan told us: “The reduction in antisocial behaviour is an area where considerable effort has been put in, by ourselves, Scottish Borders Council’s Community Safety Unit and antisocial behaviour team, housing associations, councillors and communities.

“This has been helped by the obtaining and enforcement of antisocial behaviour orders as well as longer-term preventative work, including in schools.”

The report also shows police spending per head of population fell last year in Lothian and Borders.

With Scotland’s new single police service coming into force on April 1, 2013, and £300million needing to be saved in the next three-and-a-half years, the local area commander reiterated the tough financial outlook for the region’s officers and civilian staff.

He said: “Spend per head of population, or general police budget, is expected, along with many public sector budgets, to see a reduction in coming years.

“Some of that will be met by efficiencies from the move to a single police service of Scotland, but we are facing a challenging financial future.”

The Accounts Commission paper also said Lothian and Borders Police Board was not effective enough in setting local priorities.