NEARLY a quarter of all violence in the Scottish Borders involves alcohol, according to Police Scotland. 

A report, set to go before Scottish Borders Council’s licensing committee on Friday July 19, details the work police in the Scottish Borders have undertaken to regulate alcohol licensing and prevent anti social behaviour in 2018/19.

The report reads: “Violence recording indicates an ‘alcohol’ marker as a clearly defined aggravator to indicate where the presence of alcohol is deemed a factor in the act of violence. 

“Of the 948 recorded crimes of violence for the 2018-19 period, a total of 228 had the alcohol marker attached to the crime report. 

“Of that total 96 were in residential locations leaving 132 acts of violence in a public space where alcohol featured.

“The areas showing as high for alcohol crimes are the towns of Galashiels, Hawick, Kelso and Peebles, as expected.”

The report also acknowledges that sevens tournaments and common riding festivals can cause pressure on the police force: “There are significant demands on police resources placed in the Scottish Borders area by the common riding and rugby sevens tournaments. 

“There are currently four premises trading until 3am at the weekends, with annual occasional extensions for some common riding town balls extending to 5am.”

Police Scotland have also noted an uplift in the number of offences which happen in licensed premises. 

In 2018/19 there 345 recorded incidents in licensed premises, which is an increase of 113 from 2017/18. 

There has also been a notable increase in thefts of alcohol from off-licences, which the report says “may be due to the introduction of minimum pricing.”

Police Scotland also carried out 911 recorded inspections of licensed premises in the Borders during the reporting year. 

The report signs off with a nod towards Scottish Borders Council’s plans to introduce alcohol bylaws. 

The council’s proposals involve setting up designated zones where people can be fined for public drinking in the town centres of Coldingham, Eyemouth, Galashiels, Hawick, Jedburgh, and Newtown St Boswells.

People found drinking within the town centre areas could be fined up to £500, but the bylaws would not apply on common riding days and on Hogmanay.

However, plans to submit those bylaws to the Scottish Government were voted down at a council meeting in December, and so council officers are currently conducting further public consultation before bringing the proposed bylaws back to the local authority.

The Police Scotland report concludes: “In the year ahead we propose to further the efforts that are being made in relation to focusing on underage drinking in the Borders.

“A consultation is currently underway to look at the potential introduction of local bylaw

for the area as currently the area is not covered by any and may be the only area in Scotland that holds no local byelaws prohibiting carrying and/or drinking from open containers. 

“The consultation has been devised to look at both the perceived issues and the general feeling of where these rules should apply.”