THE police chief who will be responsible for the whole of the Borders and Lothians has reassured local councillors of her commitment to local policing, writes Adam Drummond.
Chief Superintendent Jeanette McDiarmid spoke to a meeting of Scottish Borders Council last Thursday.
Chief Supt McDiarmid, who lives in Peebles, told councillors: “It is a privilege to be given this role, to lead the service into the new model of policing.”
The Police Service of Scotland will take over responsibility from the eight existing regional forces on April 1.
Chief Supt McDiarmid told the meeting that she was impressed by the standard of policing in the Borders and wanted to maintain that. She said she was “passionate about partnership working”, adding that it was the best way to move forward and save money, while also improving community policing.
In terms of policing levels, the local authority heard that due to the “cutting-edge” work by Lothian and Borders Police, an additional chief inspector would be in post in the area, with Kenny Simpson taking that role. Chief Insp Andy Clark will be the local area commander.
Chief Supt McDiarmid said that there will also be an increase in the number of inspectors at a local level, who will ensure that local policing is “intelligence led”, with officers expected to target crime hot spots.
Councillor David Paterson was concerned that if officers were concentrating on crime hot-spots, then other areas would be neglected.
However, Chief Supt McDiarmid said: “In my view if it is not broken then why fix it: and policing in the Scottish Borders is not broken. So, for me, it is just about tweaking things, like making sure that it is intelligence led.”
She added that in addition to local policing plans, ward plans would also help influence local policing, and there would be a drive to increase the public’s input into these.
She also reassured councillors that the number of officers will not change in the Borders, and in time they will increase as staff at the Lothian and Borders Police headquarters will be allocated posts across the division.
Chief Supt McDiarmid said that a domestic violence unit would be established, building on the Pathway Project already in existence in the Borders.
“We are already very good at dealing with the victims of domestic violence, but it is about tackling the suspects,” she said.
She added that a rape investigation unit for the new east division would also be created, something she had established in West Lothian and which was now being rolled out across Scotland.
Chief Supt McDiarmid spent almost 20 years with the Metropolitan Police, in major crime and Special Branch units, before taking over local policing in West Lothian.
Assistant Chief Constable Mike McCormick also addressed the meeting. He will be in charge of local policing in the eastern division of the new force.
Councillor Michael Cook asked him how the new single force would achieve the necessary efficiency savings.
ACC McCormick admitted that it would be “enormously difficult”, but added that £2.5million was going to be saved by the reduction in the command team alone.
This will see the number of chief constables cut from eight to one, nine deputy chief constables down to four, and 13 assistant chief constables reduced to six.