Hawick crime figures row escalates

Police Scotland
Police Scotland

Councillor Watson McAteer has been told he’ll have to submit a Freedom of Information request to obtain crime solvency figures for Hawick.

And despite Police Scotland claims that the figures were available online, an extensive search by our journalists drew a blank.

The Hawick News reported last week that Police Scotland was dropping the solvency rate statistics from the monthly report to the Teviot and Liddesdale Area Forum.

The decision, which according to a police spokesperson, is being rolled out nationally, comes three weeks after this newspaper reported that crime solvency levels had fallen to 45 per cent. In a statement last week, Police Scotland told us: “Police Scotland analysts supply quarterly crime statistics, which include solvency rates, to the Police and Fire Scrutiny Board. These statistics are all made public and can be obtained via the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) website.”

But local councillor and former top police officer Watson McAteer also failed to find the numbers.

And when, in his capacity as a local councillor, he queried this, he was told he would have to submit a Freedom of Information request.

The Hawick News emailed Police Scotland on Tuesday asking for a link to specific statistics for Hawick and we were directed to the Police Scotland website but a search by our editorial team failed find them.

Councillor McAteer said: “Having been directed by Police Scotland to the police authority web-site to attempt to find the crime statistics for the Hawick area my search drew a complete blank.

“Worse still, when I asked the authority to help they categorised my simple question as a Freedom of Information request and I will now have to wait the mandatory up to 20 days before they answer and there is no guarantee that the detail required will be available.

“I find this whole process less than helpful and certainly not designed to inform the public as I would expect.”

Hawick News editor Jason Marshall commented: “To be forced into submitting a Freedom of Information request to access figures which have previously been revealed at area forums and community council meetings is deeply concerning from a newspaper standpoint.

“Our readers have an expectation that we will run the crime solvency figures and not being able to do so does very little for transparency and accountability.”