Alarming reduction in numbers

As a retired civilian police worker who thankfully got out with early retirement before Police Scotland came into effect 19 months ago, I share much-missed former colleague Harry Scott’s concerns about current levels of police officers in the Borders (Southern, December 4), given that it is indicated there are currently around only 150.

I have in my possession the publicly-available report of the former Lothian and Borders force for 2005/2006, and it states there were 254 officers in the Borders – so now we have a 40 per cent reduction, which is very alarming.

So many jobs have transferred away from the former Hawick HQ that I’m told it is akin to the Marie Celeste as hardly anybody works there now. You can see there are so few cars in the park now.

If you take the current 150 officers, approximately 20 are CID, under 10 are traffic and five sergeants in charge of the custody suite at Hawick 24/7, leaving 115 on the five-shift system proving 24/7 cover which equates to 23 at any one time. On each shift at least always three will be on annual leave, likely one or more on sick leave and another one on training somewhere, so that leaves around 18 per shift to cover this region which is far from satisfactory. The force used to have around 28 officers per shift.

I spoke to a still-serving former colleague and he said that a few months ago he was sent to Bathgate to cover as they were short-handed, which would never likely have happened before and the only time local officers really went outside the area was to help at the Hogmanay celebrations in Edinburgh or if something really big blew up in Edinburgh and the Lothians.

We used to have a chief superintendent here, with a least one superintendent, but now the highest rank in the Borders is a chief inspector and the current “commander”, namely a chief superitendent, is based at Dalkeith and runs West, Mid and East Lothians, and the Borders, and must be hard pressed to keep on top of things.

If one studies the chief constable of the former Berwickshire, Roxburghshire and Selkirkshire Constabulary’s annual report for 1968, it states there were 151 officers, the same as today – but Peeblesshire was in another force area then. The population of all four counties have expanded in the 46 years since as well, and so have the demands on the force.

The situation is very worrying.

Susan Hill

Ettrickhaugh Road