Budget: Row over bobbies on beat versus eyes in the sky

Stuart Bell and Shona Haslam at the last local election.Stuart Bell and Shona Haslam at the last local election.
Stuart Bell and Shona Haslam at the last local election.
There are few major differences in how opposition and administration budgets pan out, but there is one issue where they are miles apart – tackling crime.

The opposition suggests dropping the second community action team offering extra police cover for the region and spending £586,000 on upgrading and replacing CCTV cameras in eight towns.

However, the administration believes the extra police team is more important and has already agreed on a policy of managed decline for CCTV systems.

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Opposition group leader Stuart Bell said: “We’ve taken the view that funding of police forces should not be a priority for a local authority.

“We are proposing not to renew the contract of the second team, but we want to renew CCTV systems as we feel that is a higher priority.

“We haven’t seen a significant increase in the performance of the community action teams as a result of having two of them.”

Council leader Shona Haslam disagrees, saying: “I think that’s absolutely crazy, to be honest, when you look at the impact the second team have had on the ground.

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“The intelligence they are doing, the impact they have had on drugs in the Borders since they came in, the impact it had on my own home town of Peebles – a 76% crime reduction from one month to the next because the team focused on it. That’s a phenomenal result, a result you are never going to get from a CCTV system, for example.

“There is absolutely no evidence to show that CCTV helps prevent crime, but there’s masses of evidence to show that a police officer walking down the street does so.”

She added: “Why would you save money from one thing that works and plough it into another that doesn’t? I do not understand that.”

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