The Borders’ new community action policing team has issued 90 parking tickets in less than a month on the beat.
The team of six constables and a sergeant, which first reported for duty on April 1, has been tasked with tackling issues that matter to local communities.
Partly funded by Scottish Borders Council, which has pledged £282,000 to the project, the team will target issues such as anti-social behaviour and on-street parking.
Speaking at the official unveiling at council HQ on Monday, Chief Inspector Andy McLean, local area commander for the Borders, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity we have been given by the council to address quality of life issues that we may not normally be able to do.
“This team will not be used to attend routine calls and as such will be a dedicated community resource to address local issues, wherever they may occur across the Borders.
“They will have time to look at the issues, but more importantly, to look at the root cause of the issues, that the community wants us to address.
“Ninety parking tickets have been issued since the start and we have also taken out a quantity of drugs and a drug dealer, so the team is already making a positive impact.”
Addressing concerns previously raised in Hawick about the geographical spread of the officers, who clock in at stations in Duns, Selkirk and Galashiels, Chief Inspector McLean added: “The officers are there to police all of the Borders. At the moment they are based near main arterial routes, but it is flexible. If it doesn’t work then we’re more than happy to reassess that.”
Former Borders police chief Councillor Watson McAteer, chair of the police, fire and safer communities board, said the new initiative represented an investment in the Borders’ future.
“The council has made a very brave decision to try and fill a recognised gap,” he said.
“The important thing about this approach is that it will focus on community issues. We have got problems with anti-social behaviour, parking on the streets, dog fouling. We understand that these things are a challenge for Police Scotland to deal with, and we believe that this team creates a real opportunity to address community concerns.
“A visible police presence is always beneficial, and I think it will be very quickly noticeable on the streets. It’s an investment for the future that I would like to see grow.”
Councillor McAteer, who represents Hawick on the council, admitted he had initially been disappointed that none of the officers were to be based there.
“As a former policeman based in Hawick, Wilton Hill is close to my heart, so I welcome the flexible approach. Let’s see what happens.”
Commenting on the make-up of the team, Scottish Borders Council leader Shona Haslam said: “It’s great to see three women and three men involved. It’s really representative of our communities. These officers are living and working in the Borders. They know our concerns.”
Rachel Campbell, the team’s sergeant, added: “We are looking forward to providing a positive impact on the quality of life of those living, working and visiting the Scottish Borders.”