Borders MSP calling for more bobbies on beat to tackle rise in crime

Rachael Hamilton, MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire.
Rachael Hamilton, MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire.

A rise in recorded crimes in the Borders last year has prompted Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire MSP Rachael Hamilton to call for more bobbies on the beat.

Just over 3,700 crimes were reported in the region last financial year, up 7% on the year before, according to the latest national statistics published by the Scottish Government.

That’s the eighth biggest increase in the country. It’s down by 9% since 2009-10, however, and the Borders continues to be one of the safest places to live in Scotland, with one of its lowest crime rates.

Its rate of 321 crimes per 10,000 head of population is the 11th lowest in the country and 132 below the national average of 453.

The class of crime that saw the largest increase in the region last year – of 31% – was non-sexual offences of violence, a category including assault, attempted murder, robbery and homicide.

Offences of dishonesty were up 2% and fire-raising up 4%, but sex crimes were down 8%.

Nationwide crime was up by just 1%, from 244,504 to 246,480, and down 27% since 2009-10.

Mrs Hamilton is concerned about the upward trend in crime here and is calling for action to tackle it, saying: “It is concerning to see crime rising in the Borders, especially violent crime, which saw one of the largest increases in Scotland.

“I welcomed the new funding from the Scottish Borders Council towards community action policing last year, and this has had a positive impact in our communities.

“This Scotland-wide increase in crime for the second year in a row is evidence of a catastrophic failure of the Scottish Government’s soft-touch approach to justice.

“Its failure to ensure we have enough police on the streets is clearly having a negative impact, and their decision to abolish prison sentences of less than a year will only make things worse.

“If we are to address this worrying trend, the government must finally provide Police Scotland with proper resources and ensure there are enough officers on the front line.”

Chief superintendent John McKenzie, Police Scotland’s divisional commander for the Lothians and Borders, said: “Violence is entirely unacceptable, and tackling it is a key priority as we understand the significant and devastating impact it has on individuals, families and communities.

“Our local officers and specialist national departments work alongside the people we serve and our partners to help tackle crime, prevent and reduce violence in our communities.

“We run a number of initiatives, including local and national campaigns presented at schools to tackle the recent rise in violence.

“The public should be reassured that the Borders is a safe place to live and violence remains at historically low levels.”