A SYSTEM of CCTV cameras is under consideration for a Peeblesshire village in a bid to stamp out a rising crimewave.

Residents in West Linton also want to resurrect a neighbourhood watch scheme as concern mounts over an increasing number of break ins.

They believe the conservation village is being targeted by gangs from distant towns because of its distance from main police stations.

Two housebreakings at the end of last month and an aborted raid at the post office are the latest in a string of incidents over the past year.

Studies are underway into the possibility of introducing cameras at several locations while plans are afoot to relaunch the neighbourhood watch scheme that was scrapped several years ago.

Eric Small, the chairman of the village’s community council, said: “There has been a lot of activity recently. West Linton is so remote from the police that by the time anything is reported the criminals have got away.

“We’re on main routes from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Penicuik, so it’s easy enough for them to get here.” Calum Greenhow, who runs the village post office, said: “I think the criminals regard us as easy pickings and we need to do something to protect our community.

“An elderly person could have their house broken into and they should not be put into a situation of fear.” The post office is the only location at present that has outside cameras in the village and Mr Greenhow is convinced that security would be improved if more were introduced.

“I am trying to work with the Police to have them in strategic locations around the village,” he said. “The Police are doing a feasibility study and there would have to be community support in that we’d need to decide on the right system and where to put cameras.

“But we certainly don’t want to compromise people’s civic liberties and we would need to get the balance right. We don’t want to be regarded as acting like Big Brother.

“There’s no doubt that there has been an escalation of crime. The criminals know that the main police stations are a fair distance away and that if something untoward is reported it might take officers 30 minutes at least to arrive on the scene.

“I am sure CCTV would be a big help. We could put cameras around the village and have them linked to a central point.

“If there was remote access to the cameras, the police would be forewarned and it would act as a deterrent.

“As things stand at present, the criminals are not going to get caught in the act,” A set of four cameras costs would cost around £300 and Mr Greenhow added: “It’s not a huge cost for the difference it would make.” Mr Small said: “The crooks know that there are opportunities in our village. They can come during the day to size things up and then make their move at night.

“I know there is a move to get cctv and the neighbourhood watch scheme would also be a good idea. We had one a few years ago and some residents are keen to get one started again.” Mr Greenhow revealed that the post office was the subject of a recent aborted break-in. “They put expanding foam in the alarm system to stop it going off,“ he said. “But it appears they decided not to go ahead with it as there was no damage done.

“I knew something had happened as they took ladders out of my neighbour’s garage and I found them neatly left in my garden.” Police are appealing for witnesses following the two recent housebreakings.

The first incident happened overnight on April 25 when entry was forced to the front of a residential property, although nothing was taken.

The second occurred overnight between April 25 and 26 when entry was gained to the rear of a residential property and the raiders made off with various items.

PC Corrinne Bird said: “Housebreakings are very distressing for the occupiers and we’d like to reassure the local community that we’re pursuing various lines of enquiry to find the perpetrators.

“We’re now particularly eager to trace a green Citroen Xsara and urge anyone who may have information which can assist with our enquiries to come forward.” Anyone with information is asked to contact Police Scotland on 101 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.