CAT teams row continues

Councillor Jim Muirhead outside Dalkeith Police Station. He has started a petition against the proposed removal of council funding for the police community action team
Councillor Jim Muirhead outside Dalkeith Police Station. He has started a petition against the proposed removal of council funding for the police community action team

The new area commander last week attempted to clarify the political row over the planned removal of police community action teams (CAT).

At last week’s Police and Fire and Rescue board meeting, the planned removal of council funding for 14 additional Police officers in Midlothian from next year led to a heated exchange between councillors Joe Wallace (SNP) and Jim Muirhead (Lab).

Councillor Joe Wallace (SNP) said: “He still says we are 14 frontline officers short.

“Police Scotland are fully funded by the Scottish Government. With 1,000 more officers than when they (Labour)were in power. Let’s be clear on whether we are 14 officers short? The chief superintendent just said he is a unclear that this is the case.”

Lothian and Borders Divisional Commander Chief Superintendent Vic Marshall then said: “All I can say is they will be in Police Scotland, but not necessarily at my disposal.

“I would first like to say that I have no idea where the 14 officers are going.

“They will be re-delivered to Police Scotland centrally.

“The flexibility of dedicating those officers is no longer there, and it will be on the basis of tasking for other demands.”

Councillor Kelly Parry (SNP) then quizzed the police chief, she said: “You can’t guarantee they will stay, but you can’t guarantee they will go?”

Mr Marshall responded: “Any officers that were funded by the council will leave to other duties.”

Councillor Parry 
asked: “Will they not be absorbed into a central pot, and what will be done with them?”

The commander replied: “They will be re-delivered into mainstream operations, historical cases, major operations. We are always looking for extra resources. They will be removed from local policing.”

To which the councillor said: “So there is no reason to say that Midlothian won’t benefit from these officers and pro-active policing activities?”

Mr Marshall added: “The duties they will be doing will be part of a national police service.

“The tasking from that in Midlothian will be much, much less than what we currently have.”

This exchange led councillor Jim Muirhead (Lab) to add: “There is absolutely definite impact. I said we will be 14 officers short. The work of them will go.

“Whether the officers stay or go, their activities will go.

“We are effectively losing the work of 14 front line officers in Midlothian.

“It doesn’t matter how much you deny that, that’s what will happen.”

Councillor Parry then promised to keep an 
open dialogue regarding the CAT teams.