Midlothian Mattes - Pressures on the police frontline

Police want to trace Rolf. Unfortunately there are no images of him to share.
Police want to trace Rolf. Unfortunately there are no images of him to share.

Police Community Action Teams undertake essential duties in our communities, writes Bonnyrigg resident Stevie Blain.

They are integral to ‘Keeping Midlothian Safe’. Their declared mission is to impact positively on life quality within the communities of Midlothian by reducing all types of antisocial behaviour through prevention, disruption and enforcement.

The Midlothian CAT Teams (MCAT) provide for the citizens of Midlothian high visibility patrolling. They take an active role in engaging with youths to foster a positive image of the police, act primarily as first responders to disrupt antisocial behaviouras well as numerous other positive proactive policing methods in order to nip crime in the bud.

Since 2009, 1969 civilian police staff posts have been deleted from the former police services that now make up Police Scotland. Police officers are now being withdrawn to back fill these support positions. This costs the public purse more because police officers receive higher pay than the police staff formerly undertaking these roles. This surely can’t be cost effective or indeed compliant with the Police & Fire Reform Act (Scotland) 2012 intent of ‘Best Value’.

According to Audit Scotland, Police Scotland is being forced to bear a funding gap forecast as rising to £80 million by 2018. Whilst the Scottish Government claim that overall crime is measured at a 41 year low this statistic can be viewed as misleading.

In Midlothian the council’s recent decision to remove funding to council antisocial noise wardens means that this additional duty falls to response police officers. This decision was taken at the same time as the proposal to remove funding to MCAT. The police were given around two weeks to make the adjustment to this cut to another essential service. All of these cuts due to lack of funding follow on from further recent cuts to police traffic wardens and front counter provision. Again police officers have to step in there to fill the breach in Midlothian.

I understand cuts have to be made, this can be argued, however, as the wrong cut to an essential service. It is not rocket science.

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