McAteer’s call for local crime statistics

Councillor Watson McAteer
Councillor Watson McAteer

A Hawick councillor has demanded that police should provide community-based crime and detection statistics.

Watson McAteer, himself a retired divisional police commander, believes that is the only way community councils, especially in rural areas, can understand how they are being impacted by crime and how their concerns are being addressed. He says he plans to raise the issue with whoever is appointed next month to replace Sir Stephen House as Chief Constable of Police Scotland.

Councillor McAteer was reacting to being told by area commander Chief Inspector Andrew McLean that crime and detection figures were currently only collated on a Borders-wide basis and that “technical issues” prevented a more geographically-localised breakdown.

However, at last week’s council meeting, CI McLean commended the use of policing plans which had been prepared and published online for each of the region’s 11 multi-member wards (MMWs).

Each plan had a different set of policing priorities, based on the results of a Police Scotland survey of more than 1,000 Borders residents.

For example, in Galashiels and District, people were most concerned about tackling violent crime; in Jedburgh it was drug dealing and misuse; in Mid-Berwickshire it was road safety; and in Selkirkshire it was antisocial behaviour.

“We used to take an educated guess at the issues which really concerned the public and now we know,” said CI McLean. “These plans with their diverse priorities are now the foundation of everything we do in local policing.

Mr McAteer told the Hawick News: “Police Scotland’s decision to only report on the outcomes of the multi member ward priorities may well suit them. However, I am concerned that this denies our communities the opportunity to fully understand how they are being impacted by crime.”