Figures published by Police Scotland highlight that the number of police officers in the Lothians and Scottish Borders police force is at its lowest level in nearly decade.
Across the Lothians and Scottish Borders there were four fewer police officers in July than there were in January.
This is part of a worrying trend that shown a steady decline of police officers over the last five years. Over the last year the local police force has lost 10 officers and there are now 40 fewer officers than in 2013.
Only Greater Glasgow and Lanarkshire have lost more officers over the last five years.
At the same time, there has been a rise in crime in East Lothian and the Borders.
Over the last year, the amount of crime reported has increased by 12% in the Borders as well as a 30% increase in the amount of sexual violence reported.
Crime in East Lothian has risen by 4%. Crimes of dishonesty such as shoplifting, fraud and theft of motor vehicles saw the most dramatic increases. Overall, crimes of dishonesty rose by over 6% in the last year.
Local police officers are responsible for community policing, road policing and make a “core complement” of police resources according to Police Scotland.
Michelle Ballantyne MSP for South Scotland expressed her concerns that there are not enough police officers on our streets whilst crime is rising and has called on the Scottish Government to honour their commitment to introduce 1000 more police officers.
Michelle Ballantyne MSP commented:
“It’s difficult to maintain confidence that people will be kept safe when numbers are dwindling like this. The presence of police officers is essential to detect and prevent criminal behaviour.
“The SNP’s soft touch approach to justice and policing is letting people in the Lothians and the Borders down.
“Crime is rising and the Scottish Government’s response is to cut the number of police on our streets.
“Police Scotland do amazing work, in the Lothians, Borders and across Scotland. The SNP Government needs to give them the resources they need to make sure we can control crime.
“So far, all we’ve received from the SNP are broken promises.
“I hope that the Justice Secretary will change this and follow through on the pledge his Government made to everyone.”