Cops’ crime stats decision draws councillors’ wrath

Hawick Police Station.
Hawick Police Station.

Local councillors and community leaders have this week given their reaction to Police Scotland’s decision to scrap crime solvency figures from area forum reports.

And an error-strewn report which was given to Monday night’s community council meeting, which placed more than a dozen incidents in the wrong wards, has also met with criticism from local politicians.

Hawick and Denholm councillor Watson McAteer accused the police of a “serious error in judgement” over the dropped crime statistics and commenting on Monday night’s incorrect report, added: “It is imperative that the public information provided by the police is factually accurate.

“Where regular mistakes occur, as we have recently seen in the local multi-ward submissions, it questions the attention to detail we all expect and whether or not this important service is seen as a priority.”

“In my view all of this leads to a serious error in judgement with local crime and police performance data which are a fundamental part of the public reassurance process.

Councillor George Turnbull, who chairs the local Police, Fire and Rescue and Safer Communities Board, said he was deeply concerned that the crime solvency rates had been dropped and that many incidents contained in Monday night’s report were recorded in the wrong wards.”

Mr Turnbull said: “This is the second month in a row that mistakes have been made in reports. It really is a ridiculous situation and you can be rest assured I will be bringing this up with Inspector Carol Wood.”

Davie Paterson refused to comment on the removal of the crime solvency statistics being removed from the Area Forum report, saying: “I do not want to get involved in that.”

But he was concerned about the misleading mistakes in Monday night’s report and added: “This is not the first time this has happened. I am not at all happy that crimes which are being committed in the Hawick and Denholm ward are being reported as taking place in Hawick and Hermitage.”

Hawick Community Council chair Marion Short said: “I am extremely concerned that we will no longer be getting crime solvency figures at the area forum meeting. How else are we to gauge police performance? I would like to see them reinstated. And it is concerning to hear that one councillor was told that he would need to put in a Freedom of Information request to obtain crime solvency statistics. I have the greatest respect for the police on the beat but it really does make you wonder what the police have to hide.”

Councillor Ron Smith said he was concerned that the clear-up figures had been dropped. “We are supposed to be dealing with transparency and this is certainly not transparent. As a general picture of what is happening in the community these statistics are helpful. I see no reason why they should be withdrawn.” And asked if he’d like to see them included again, Mr Smith answered: “Yes.”

Burnfoot Community Council chairman Michael Grieve said: “I was shocked to read that police would no longer be reporting solvency rates. We can’t measure the effectiveness of the police without knowing if the crimes that are being reported are then being solved.”

“I noticed that they had said that crime statistics were available on the website so I looked and found no results. So I looked at the reports at a Scottish level and they give figures for crimes committed but not for crimes solved. So you cannot even get this figure nationally.”

Councillor Stuart Marshall commented: “I think it is vital that we receive information regarding solvency rates and other policing statistics within the areas that we represent and for important information like this not to be readily available is a major concern.”

Alistair Cranston was unavailable for comment.