Community Action Team focus on winter road safety and local issues

Published: Tuesday, 17th January 2023

Winter road safety has been a focus for the Scottish Borders Community Action Team (CAT) recently, alongside continued efforts to tackle antisocial behaviour, including that involving young people.

The CAT, a policing resource of two teams of seven officers, funded by ourselves, has operated roadside checkpoints across the region, including Earlston, Duns, Eyemouth, Peebles and Galashiels. This resulted in a number of drivers being given advice on winter safety, particularly tyre tread depth.

In addition, speed checks in Earlston led to six drivers being warned and a driver being reported for driving without insurance.

Tackling antisocial behaviour

In the lead up to Christmas, the team undertook licensed premises checks and high visibility foot patrols in key locations to deter antisocial behaviour. Areas of Galashiels received additional attention due to recent reports of antisocial behaviour, including by youths, too, and this will continue throughout January.

Antisocial behaviour involving young people in Peebles was also a continued focus of activity for the team and community policing officers in December, and the number of reports incidents made to Police Scotland remains low.

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.

Addressing local issues

Rural and acquisitive crime is a key task being tackled by the CAT team, with ongoing targeting of off-road motorbiking in forests, hare coursing and thefts. The team have carried out a number of static and mobile checks in Berwickshire as part of this effort, with an antisocial driving warning issued to one off-road motorist.

Two men were also arrested by CAT officers in Stow and later charged in relation to housebreakings in the area. The team has also assisted with the recovery of a stolen quad bike near West Linton, with the recovery highlighting the benefits of farmers fitting trackers to such vehicles.

At the January meeting common themes emerged around parking and speeding in a number of Scottish Borders locations and these will continue to be addressed by the team.

Councillor Julie Pirone, chair of the CAT Oversight Group

“The CAT team continues to address key areas of concerns that are raised by councillors on behalf of communities. We also continue to work together to make our communities safer. I would also ask that everyone across the Borders checks cars and bikes are ready for winter use, paying attention to having working lights – essential in dark days and nights.”

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

Safety and security advice

Winter Driving

  • Make light work of checking your vehicle lights

It will be easier if a friend can help you, but if you are really stuck the reflection in a large window can help you check your vehicle’s lights.  Start by checking the back of your car; check your indicators, brake lights and reversing light. Turn on your lights to check the tail lights are working. Turn on fog lights to check they are all in working order. Leaving your lights on, move to the front of the car and do it all again; check your indicators and remember to check all light settings; dipped and full beam as well as any fog lights. It is important if any of these are not working to visit a local garage or replace them yourself if you are confident to do so.

  • Tyre condition

Whilst it is important to keep your tyres in good condition all year round, winter conditions make it even more important. Take a close look at all your tyres, including your spare if you have one. The recommended tread depth should be at least 3mm (the legal minimum tread is 1.6mm across the central three quarters of the tread pattern). Keep an eye out for any bulges or small nicks in the tyre. It is equally as important to ensure all of your tyres have the correct pressure in them at all times. If you are in doubt many garages offer tyre checks, some offer them for free.

  • Windows and windscreen

A dirty windscreen which suddenly mists up and faced with low sun can really affect visibility. Give your windows and windscreen a wash with hot soapy water inside and out. Clean windows will increase visibility and may also reduce the chance of your windows misting, but if they do mist up make sure you allow some time for them to clear before heading on your journey. Also check your wiper blades and if they look worn you should replace them. Whilst checking your wiper blades it’s a good time to make sure your screen wash fluid is topped up too.

Cycle safety

  • Check your equipment

Check your seat is adjusted to the proper height and is locked in place, check your tyres are inflated properly and make sure your bike is equipped with reflectors front and rear. Check any reflectors on the spokes and pedals are intact and clean so visible to other motorists.

  • Wear a helmet

Always wear a helmet regardless of the length of the ride. It is important that your helmet fits properly. When fitted your helmet should not rock more than 1 inch side to side or front to back on your head.

  • Plan to be seen

Make sure drivers can see you by checking your lights are fitted properly and in full working order. Flashing lights will make you more visible than a solid light. Wear bright or reflective clothing so you can be seen from a distance as well as ensuring those all-important hand signals are visible. It is important to follow these tips not just at night but also in low light conditions during the winter months.