Call for more funding for Midlothian police team

Scottish Conservative candidate for Midlothian South, Shona Haslam, has urged the Scottish Government to provide more funding to support Community Action Teams in Midlothian to fight crime.

Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 12:24 pm
Stock Picture Michael Gillen.

Between 2018 and 2019, the number of total offences recorded in Midlothian was 3,143, climbing to 3,203 in 2019-2020 despite the region being placed in lockdown for a large part of the year. Fire-raising and vandalism remain high, with 792 cases in 2019-2020 alone. There has also been an increase in motoring offences from 1,212 to 1,293, even though travel restrictions have been in place for months. Other crimes, including drug possession and handling offensive weapons, have seen a slight drop, from 1,093 in 2018-19 to 972 in 2019-20.

Ms Haslam is calling for greater funding for Community Action Teams, which she has successfully rolled out in the Borders in her role as leader of the council there.

She said: “I’ve seen first-hand how effective Community Action Teams can be, performing vital work in our communities, keeping us safe and building better links with the public.

"It’s disappointing that crime has not fallen in Midlothian more. I’ve heard from residents how drug-related crime is still an issue in some parts of the region and the problems with fly-tipping are clear to see.

"I’d like to see the Scottish Government commit to providing a fair funding settlement for Midlothian that means CATs can continue to operate for many years to come.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “While there can be fluctuations when comparing over short time periods, by all main measures crime, including violent crime is now considerably lower than a decade ago, with fewer victims.

“Police recorded crime nationally was almost a quarter (24 per cent) lower last year than in 2010-11, down to one of the lowest levels since 1974. And it was down by 13 per cent locally – with 10 per cent fewer recorded crimes of non-sexual violence and 16 per cent fewer crimes of dishonesty across Midlothian in 2019-20 compared to a decade before.

“Our investment in policing for next year has increased to more than £1.3 billion, including a £60 million (5.2 per cent) resource budget increase."

The spokesperson added: “Some people have used the pandemic as an opportunity to break the law, which is why we support police and other agencies in pursuing those who target Scotland’s communities.

“While the detailed balance of officers, civilian specialists and other police staff is an operational matter for the chief constable. Scotland has significantly more officers than the level inherited in 2007, and favourable in comparison with England and Wales per head of population.”