Council-funded Community Action Teams tackle cross-border criminals

Published: 26th October 2022

The Scottish Borders’ Community Action Teams (CAT) have been collaborating with Northumbria Police and colleagues in Dumfries and Galloway to disrupt cross-border criminal activity, in particular the theft of agricultural machinery and equipment in recent weeks.

What work do the Community Action Teams undertake?

The policing resource of two teams of seven officers, funded by Scottish Borders Council, has been targeting locations along the Scottish/English border, including operating checkpoints and stopping a number of vehicles.

These high visibility activities have not only led to the detection of various offences but also have a preventative effect. This is just one example of the work carried out by the teams across the Scottish Borders.

The Community Action Teams have also executed a number of property search warrants recently, aimed at tackling serious and organised crime, with drugs and money recovered in each instance. This has only been possible thanks to information from within communities being shared with the police.

A monthly meeting is held between a group of cross party Councillors, Council Officers and Police Scotland’s CAT sergeants to provide feedback on recent Community Action Team activities and agree priority tasks for the coming month. Key data and associated analysis as well as community feedback is used as part of the tasking process.

Tackling various types of criminal activity across the Borders 

At the October meeting of the CAT Oversight Group, elected members raised community concerns regarding young people entering disused and unsafe buildings in a number of Borders towns.

In addition to potential criminal activity in terms of gaining access to these properties, the buildings themselves and any contents may pose a serious risk to those involved. A number of buildings identified will now be part of the regular patrols by the Community Action Teams.

Areas experiencing increases in anti-social behaviour were also identified during the meeting, specifically parts of Hawick and Peebles where there have been some persistent issues recently. CAT officers will be focussing attention on these locations. 

Community concerns about indiscriminate and illegal parking remain on the agenda too and officers will continue to enforce on-street restrictions, helping to support local business by ensuring a turnover of spaces in town centres.

With 5 November drawing closer, the illegal and dangerous use of fireworks by some was also raised. The Community Action Teams will be working with partners to try and minimise the impact of indiscriminate use of fireworks over the next few weeks.

Report a crime

To report a crime call 999 in an emergency. Use 101 for the Police Scotland website for non-emergency issues. To anonymously report suspicious activity or crimes call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Councillor Julie Pirone, chair of the CAT Strategic Oversight Group:

“The work of the CAT Teams is vital to dealing with issues all across the Scottish Borders. We have a well-established process of allocating tasks to the CAT officers and a mechanism to scrutinise the teams’ activity.

“Information and concerns from communities, whether that is fed through local councillors or the police is always taken on board. The Community Action Teams undertake a whole range of activity, with much of this vital work driven by concerns and issues where it is backed up with other evidence and data.

“The Scottish Borders is an exceptionally safe place to live and through our ongoing partnership with Police Scotland and information from our residents we can continue to tackle the small minority who are up to no good.”

Local Area Commander, Chief Inspector Vinnie Fisher:

“Rural areas such as the Scottish Borders can be a target for travelling criminals, in particular our more isolated communities and farms.

“Our continued policing activities, including with the Community Action Teams and through the Scottish Borders Partnership Against Rural Crime is supporting our rural communities and businesses, however, it remains crucial that people are vigilant and report any suspicious activity to Police Scotland so we can act and stop those involved.”