‘Back to the future’ for policing in Midlothian

Midlothian community officers
Midlothian community officers

Following local feedback, changes have been made to community policing in Midlothian, going back to dedicated officers for communities.

Midlothian Chief inspector Kenny Simpson admitted to the Advertiser that changes made last year did not work, but said that police have listened to community feedback and re-organised community policing, with the changes taking place last week.

He said: “We changed the model in Midlothian in March 2015, to split between response and community teams. Which moved away from dedicated beat officers.

“We said it was a six month pilot and we would review it both externally and internally. It wasn’t particularly popular internally but more crucial for us, the community didn’t like it.

“They thought there was a real loss of police identity in the community that they would see on a regular basis.

“So we have reviewed policing in Midlothian, and it’s back to the future.

“We have consulted and listened to the views of the communities. They are absolutely everything to us. We rely on them 100 per cent.

“We have re-shaped our policing model back, not to exactly the same, but very similar to what we had before.

“With dedicated community officers allocated to multi-member wards.”

The Chief Inspector believes that this new model is right for Midlothian.

He said: “Demands on us are high. But if we want to do it properly we have to listen and respond to the needs of our communities.

“It’s about the recognised face. That’s what we aspire to. It’s not so long ago we were there. So it’s achievable.

“We are confident that his way is going to work. It’s all about community policing. That’s the bottom line.

“We believe the model we are introducing gives us the most effective and together way to community policing that we are going to achieve in Midlothian.

“My hope is that the community see a difference and they feel they have been listened to. And that we are providing a quality service that local communities want.”

Chief inspector Simpson added that police will attend as many community council meetings as possible, with at the very least a written report submitted. And that he or other senior officers would attend where requested.

Community Inspector Michelle Ritchie added that police are keen to break down barriers with communities: “There has been difficulties just speaking to us.

“We welcome feedback. We want to know how else can we make ourselves available to you, so we can meet community needs. Rather than just contact us. So it’s two ways.”

Response and community policing is currently split 60/ 40. As of March 3 that has now changed to 80/20. 
The current two teams of officers in Midlothian will be moved into four, with dedicated community officers for each of the six multi-member council wards.
Aligned to, and based within their geographic area, they represent the face of the police in the community and provide a higher level of consistency in local engagement, including continuity at local meetings.

The roles and responsibilities of these officers, formed over years of partnership working and engagement, has not changed; their focus remaining on engagement, prevention, diversionary work and forging and improving community relations.

As part of a continued engagement and review process, a letter and questionnaire has been prepared for local councillors, and this will be sent out in due course. The letter requests input on the effectiveness of the change and the questionnaire sets out questions from which a survey can be taken. This will capture a present day view.

After 10 months a second letter and questionnaire will be sent to local councillors asking the same questions and a review of the two responses will be made to assess the viability of the new policing model.
To contact local police, email DalkeithCPT@Scotland.pnn.police.uk or PenicuikCPT@Scotland.pnn.police.uk