BORDERS politicians have highlighted concerns over the rise of crime in the region. 

Last month, police in the Scottish Borders revealed that the number of ‘dishonest’ crimes in the Borders, such as housebreaking, motor vehicle theft and fraud, has increased by more than 30 percent. 

At a meeting of Scottish Borders Council’s police, fire and rescue board on Friday August 30, police also reported that the number of sexual crimes in the region has risen by more than a quarter. 

Now, Hawick councillor Watson McAteer is set to query local authority bosses on what they’re doing to improve the safety of the Borders public. 

At the next meeting of the council, scheduled for Thursday September 26, councillor McAteer will ask: “With the recently reported April to June 2019 Scottish Borders crime statistics revealing an overall increase of 12%, and with acquisitive crime and thefts by housebreaking contributing with over 30 percent increases over the same period, can the executive member provide any reassure to the Borders public concerning the safety and security of their property?

“Additionally with a reported 17 percent solvency rate for theft by housebreaking can he explain what action he has taken on our behalf to ensure that adequate policing resources are addressing a startling 12% drop in performance?”

During quarter one of 2018/19, there were 339 recorded crimes of dishonesty, compared to 443 in quarter one of this year. 

Between April and June of this year, there were 35 housebreakings, including attempts, 26 motor vehicle thefts, 102 recorded instances of shoplifting, and 53 cases of fraud. 

This compares with figures of 18, 15, 89 and 26, respectively, for the previous year. 

During April, May, and June of this year, there were 65 reported sexual crimes in the region, amounting to more than one sexual crime per every 1,800 Borders residents. 

This is an increase of 27% on the figures for the same period in 2018, when there were 51 reported sexual crimes. 

Included in these figures are 12 reported rapes, up from nine over the same period last year, and an increase in sexual assaults, from 20 in the first quarter of 2018 to 27 over the same period in 2019.

There was also a marked increase in lewd and libidinous crimes, which are sexual assaults on children under the age of puberty. These incidents have increased from two in quarter one of 2018 to 11 during quarter one of this year. 

Rachael Hamilton, Conservative MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, has also voiced her concerns over the rise of crime in the Borders.

The Scottish Government recently revealed that in 2018/19, there were 3,704 crimes committed in the Borders, which is an increase of 7% on the previous year.

This is well above the Scottish average, where crime has risen by just one percent. 

Commenting on the figures, Ms Hamilton said: “It is concerning to see crime rising in the Borders, especially violent crime, which saw one of the largest increases in Scotland.

“I welcomed the new funding from the Scottish Borders Council towards community action policing last year and this has had a positive impact in our communities.

 “This Scotland-wide increase in crime for the second year in a row is a catastrophic failure of the SNP’s soft touch approach to justice.

“The SNP’s failure to ensure we have enough police on the streets is clearly having a negative impact, and their decision to abolish prison sentences of less than a year will only make things worse.

“If we are to address this worrying trend this SNP government must finally provide Police Scotland with proper resources and ensure there are enough officers on the front line.”

Recently, Scottish Borders Council launched a second community action police team, which will tackle local issues such as antisocial behaviour, drug and alcohol abuse and theft.