Community officers protected in draft Borders budget

Scottish Borders Council’s draft budget for the forthcoming year invests in keeping Borders communities safe, with the continuation of the two community action teams (CATs).

Council Leader Shona Haslam, Rachael Hamilton MSP and John Lamont MP believe the move will ensure improved safety across the Scottish Borders, at a time when opposition parties seek to cut officer numbers.

The opposition draft budget proposed by the SNP and Independents would see 7 CAT officers being removed and instead CCTV being installed in their place.

In 2018/19, almost 900 hours of high visibility patrols and 300 drug searches on people/premises were conducted by the CAT officers.

Most recently, the CAT team were responsible for a £80,000 drugs bust in Galashiels last week and a 76% cut in crime in Peebles from November to December last year. 

The opposition’s desire to cut CAT officers was put into sharp focus this week, following warnings from Police Scotland that current SNP Government spending plans could hamper its ability to tackle organised crime and put the public and officers at risk.

Mrs Hamilton, Mr Lamont and Cllr Haslam believe that at a time when Police Scotland are warning the SNP Government over officer numbers, it is concerning that SNP councillors want to cut community action team officers in the Borders too.

Scottish Borders Council Leader, Shona Haslam said:

“Our draft budget protects Community Action Team officers who are vitally important in tackling crime across the Borders.

“SNP councillors want to see a cut to CAT officers, at a time when Police Scotland are warning of the impact of the SNP Government’s cuts to officer numbers nationally.

“We all know that CCTV does not have the same impact in tackling crime as officers on the beat does.

“As ever the Conservative led administration are stepping up to the plate, it is time the SNP did the same”.

Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire MSP, Rachael Hamilton said:

“At a national level we have Police Scotland warning we do not have the resources to tackle crime effectively.

“I am glad the Conservative led Scottish Borders council recognise this and are continuing the good work with community action team officers.

“There work has led to several criminals being brought to justice, who would have otherwise slipped through the net.

“Rural crime is a significant issue in the Borders and CAT officers are instrumental in helping tackle this". 

Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP, John Lamont said:

“The Conservative draft budget for Scottish Borders council provides funding for the significant work that community action teams carry out.

“The figures speak for themselves and show that CAT officers have made a real difference right across the area.

“They work hard to keep our communities safe and are an essential part of tackling crime on the frontline”.