When Scotland’s eight police forces merged into a single entity in April last year, one fear expressed was that officers normally covering rural beats would be sent to more urban areas where, admittedly, crime tends to be higher.
This week, that concern was heightened with news (reported on page 7) that Scottish Information Commissioner Rosemary Agnew had backed Police Scotland’s refusal to provide information about the number of officers working in the Borders. The country’s national police service claimed revealing such information “would or would be likely to prejudice substantially the prevention and detection of crime”.
Retired bobby Harry Scott, of Galashiels, who used Freedom of Information legislation in his bid to get answers, did not accept disclosure of historical information would cause substantial prejudice and took the matter up with Ms Agnew – but she came down on the side of the police.
So why, during the time of predecessors Lothian and Borders Police, information about the number of officers in this region (about the 200 mark) was readily available?
Police Scotland’s refusal to enlighten Borderers – taxpayers who pay for police service – about the amount of cover protecting them against criminals will only serve to increase suspicions that rural areas are losing out to Central Belt dominance.