CAT cops back on the streets

The first of the two re-introduced Midlothian police community action (CAT) teams.
The first of the two re-introduced Midlothian police community action (CAT) teams.

Chief Inspector Kenny Simpson has welcomed the return of the council-funded extra police officers which were axed only eight months ago.

Reduced in April 2016 before being removed all together a year later by the previous SNP administration, the Labour controlled council has reinstated the police CAT teams, with the first team of six officers and a sergeant returning to duty on December 1.

A further team with the same make-up will join them in April, giving Midlothian 14 additional police officers.

Chief Inspector Kenny Simpson is adamant that the CAT teams’s return will make a difference. He said:“They are a great asset to Midlothian and I’m extremely grateful for the reinstatement of funding.

“Through time we will see the full benefit. Hopefully the community will see these extra officers out and about and I would encourage people to engage with these officers.

“We can only act on what we know. It’s about building trusted relationships and I hope that’s what we achieve.

“We have had a gap of eight months and there has definitely been an increase in antisocial behaviour of about seven per cent at the moment, but at one point it was over 15 per cent. So these teams were absolutely needed and they will make a significant difference.

“The acid test for us is the community coming to us and saying the CAT teams are making a difference. To improve the quality of life of everybody in Midlothian and make residents feel safer.

“They have been very busy in their first week. A great deal of schemes in preventing and detecting crime and some really positive community engagement.”

Chief Insp Simpson said the officers will cover “a wide spectrum” including antisocial behaviour, drug related issues, housebreakings and road safety, focusing on “what the community are telling us”.

He added: “More importantly for me it’s having time in these areas, it’s not just about enforcement but engagement to try and prevent distress.

“I think their presence in the communities of Midlothian will provide a great deal of assurance to people. Just having that presence in the area.

“The impact of just seeing officers on the streets is a huge deterrent, but more importantly it provides a level of reassurance to members of the community.”