Call for more action as antisocial fears grow

Community officer Steven Irvine
Community officer Steven Irvine

PEOPLE in Hawick are afraid to go out at night.

That was the shocking statement delivered at this week’s community council meeting.

But this was rubbished by the police who claim the perception of crime in Hawick is caused by people “talking the town down”.

Community councillor Evelyn Sangster said: “I talk to people all the time at the church or through community groups and what they’re telling me is that quite a lot of people are afraid to come out to things at night.”

And local businessman Nick Powolny, who had his High Street shop window smashed recently by vandals – causing over £400 worth of damage – agreed.

He said: “It’s not even vandalism or specific crimes, it’s just antisocial behaviour. I was going along the street at 7am to open up and there were three people walking towards me shouting and swearing.

“You get the exact same thing in the afternoon at around 4pm. It’s no wonder people are intimidated. It’s ridiculous.”

In his monthly crime report, community officer Steven Irvine (pictured) revealed there had been 54 crimes committed during last month, 30 of which were solved. From that 18 were vandalism and six thefts. This compared to 67 crimes in May and 50 in April.

And he used those statistics to defend the crime levels in the town. He said: “The reason why people are afraid is because there’s a lot of small talk and people who are putting the town down.

“When you look at the crime figures for last month, 54, that’s less than two-a-day.”

There was also a call for more police out on the streets in light of the continued vandalism to the flower boxes and other areas.

Mrs Sangster said: “What we need is a visible presence.

“I know it’s difficult and I know there’s cutbacks but to get confidence from the public, the police need to be out there.”

However, Mr Irvine hit back and said that resources made that virtually impossible.

“I can be on foot, back and forward along the High Street, doing licensed premises checks as I go,” he said. “But I’m only one man in an entire police force. I can’t be there 24 hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week.

“I could be standing at the Horse when they’re pulling flowers out at the Sandbed. My bosses aren’t going to put 20 cops on the street to man flower beds.”