NEW statistics show the number of police officers across the Borders and Lothian has fallen dramatically in just a few years.

Figures published by the justice and social affairs publication, 1919 Magazine, revealed the reduction in police officers by division across Scotland.

In the Lothians and Borders division, there are 51 fewer officers in the area than there were three years ago, which is a 5.4 per cent reduction since March 2020.

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Commenting on the national figures, David Kennedy, general secretary of the Scottish Police Federation, said: “Community officers go to events, get to know children, the parents, and they get to know the criminals.

“This all makes a positive difference, but when you take it away the barriers come up and rather than policing by consent, it becomes a force rather than a service.

“We’re not a pro-active service anymore, it’s just reactive, and that makes a difference in the longer term.”

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A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Policing is a priority for this Government, which is why, despite difficult financial circumstances due to UK Government austerity, we have increased police funding year-on-year since 2016-17, with £1.45 billion being invested this year.

“The Scottish Government has invested more than £11.6 billion since the creation of Police Scotland in 2013. There are 379 more officers than in 2007 and around 1,480 new recruits have joined Police Scotland since the beginning of 2022.

“Scotland continues to have more police officers per capita than England and Wales.”

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Scottish Borders MSP, Rachael Hamilton, said: “It is extremely disappointing that SNP cuts have reduced the number of police officers on our streets.

“The public will inevitably be less safe when there are fewer officers patrolling local communities.

“The SNP must invest in Scottish policing so that Borders residents don’t suffer at the hands of criminals.”

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Scottish Borders MP, John Lamont, said: “Frontline officers do a fantastic job of keeping us safe, preventing crime and arresting offenders.

“But officers are telling us that they no longer have the resources to do their jobs to the best of their ability.

“SNP cuts have left police officers in the Borders and across Scotland struggling to cope. Humza Yousaf must increase funding for the frontline in the upcoming Scottish Budget.”