By Chief Inspector Neil Mitchell, Local police commander

I STARTED as the Local Area Commander on March 16, 2019 – this seems like a lifetime ago with all that has happened recently.

However, this has meant that I have now overseen East Lothian for a full year of performance and on Monday the Police Scotland National and Local Authority full-year Q4 performance statistics were published for 2019/20. These can be found on the Police Scotland website.

There has been lots of significant positive change over this year: a new community policing model has been implemented; officers have all been issued with handheld computers; and there has been the introduction of the contact assessment model (CAM).

Each of these projects has improved our service delivery and positively impacted on policing this great county. The CAM, in particular, has improved our call handling and resolution process and meant that officers are patrolling their streets more,

Looking at the published statistics, it is extremely welcoming to see a significant drop in violent crimes across East Lothian, such as serious assaults and robberies but there is still a lot of work to be done as there are too many victims of these violent crimes. 

We will continue to support victims and witnesses, whilst focussing our efforts towards our main priorities of reducing violence and disorder and targeting perpetrators of these violent crimes.

Whilst there is a drop in these crimes, there is also a significant increase in detections which has risen from 68.5 to 89.9 per cent.

This is down to our focus and commitment to tackling perpetrators of violent crimes and using the tools available through criminal justice to reduce reoffending.

Across the year there has been a rise in reported rapes.  This can be attributed to ongoing long-term investigations into non-recent reports of rape and attempted rape and national teams are working closely with local teams to identify further victims and perpetrators. 

I believe this rise highlights that there is an increased confidence from victims to report these crimes and campaigns and movements such as ‘me too’ have assisted with this.  Many of these cases cannot be progressed if victims and witnesses don’t come forward and I urge anyone who has been the victim of a sexual crime, either recent or historic, to report this to us or a third party service.

Domestic abuse will always be a priority and I will continue to work collaboratively with all our partners to provide the best service and support to victims and this is particularly relevant during these current Covid-19 challenges.  If you are a victim of domestic abuse or know someone who is please contact us so that we can stop this from happening. You can also contact the domestic abuse helpline on 0800 027 1234.

I also welcome the decrease in reported anti-social behaviour (ASB) and would like to take this opportunity to thank our partners, particularly East Lothian Council Safer Communities team who do such a fantastic job. We work collaboratively with them to identify, respond and prevent ASB in all its forms. The staff in these team are passionate and committed people who really do make a difference.

Looking ahead to the rest of 2020 and 2021, there is lots of work still to be done.  Despite Covid-19 and the challenges this brings to all of society, we will continue to provide the best possible service to the public and to ensure that East Lothian continues to be a safe place to live, work and visit.