SADLY, this will be my last Courier column as Local Area Commander for East Lothian.

I have been asked to take up a temporary post as part of the Strategic Co-ordination Group for Brexit, which forms part of Police Scotland’s contingency arrangements for whatever happens come March 29. Beyond Brexit, I will move to the Divisional Command Unit at Dalkeith.

It has been an absolute pleasure to serve as East Lothian Area Commander for the last year.

During this time, we have responded to over 28,500 incidents. Operationally, some of these have been significant – firearms incidents, high-risk missing people and fatal road accidents – and the professionalism displayed by our local officers has been first-class.

We have seen a significant rise in domestic abuse incidents over the last year – I anticipate about a 25 per cent rise by the end of the financial year – and whilst I welcome more victims coming forward, it should serve as a reminder domestic abuse is widespread and has no boundaries in terms of who can be affected.

By the end of this financial year, I am confident that we will be able to report a reduction in anti-social behaviour, hate crime, and casualties on our roads. As a result of good information and intelligence from the public and the pro-active efforts of our officers, I also anticipate seeing an increase in drug seizures during the last year.

I said at the outset of my appointment that I was keen to improve engagement with the public and I am delighted to see the work that has been delivered through the East Lothian Partnership Against Rural Crime to help deliver this. Clearly, more is still to be done, but I am confident we will see further developments in this area.

There is no doubt that there will be various challenges for all public services in the future. Working collaboratively across all areas will be extremely important to manage demand and to meet public expectation. As a resident of East Lothian, and based on the excellent partnership working I have seen in my role, I am confident that all services and elected representatives are trying their very best to work together to deliver for the county.

I would like to wish my successor, Neil Mitchell, all officers, everyone I have worked with in East Lothian Council and other partner agencies, elected members and residents of East Lothian all the very best for the future.