THE lack of police presence at Innerleithen Community Council has been deemed a “missing piece of the community jigsaw” which must be put back.

Chairman of the town’s community council, Marshall Douglas read out the new look police report to members at their meeting last week.

The report has changed format and now covers the whole of Tweeddale, but Mr Marshall remarked that the reduction in police attending their meetings is “extremely concerning”.

Tweeddale Councillors raised the issue of police attendance with Police Scotland and were assured that officers would attend at least once a quarter.

Community councillor Jackie Couchman said: “I would like clarification as to whether we can expect no police presence at any community council meeting.

“We used to have our local community police officer in attendance at most community council meetings. This gave the benefit of us knowing the face of our local police presence, developing a good working relationship, and being able to raise local concerns as they arose, whether formally reported or not.

“It also gave the officer the opportunity to give appropriate emphasis to the monthly police report and draw particular attention to areas of concern from the police perspective.”

She added: “The officer wasn’t required to attend the whole meeting and often left after the police agenda item.”

The lack of police attendance is said to be felt keenly by members of Innerleithen Community Council, and has flagged concern that no priority is given to community police relations other than in a reactive way.

Mrs Couchman said: “Some issues were better dealt with informally and grass roots intelligence regularly fed into the local community policing.”