POLICE officers in the Borders are making ‘significant personal sacrifices’ as a result of a reduction in staff, a chief has revealed.

A change in police service pensions has resulted in officers with 25 years service or more being able to now retire when they reach the age of 50.

Many officers have chosen to take the retirement option, leaving a big hole in police numbers which may take years to fill, despite an ongoing recruitment campaign.

It is a deep concern for chief inspector Vincent Fisher, local area commander for the Borders, who was speaking on Friday (June 10) at a meeting of the council’s Police, Fire & Rescue and Safer Communities Board.

He said: “While the chief constable has committed to a significant recruitment campaign in the months ahead, it may take some time for those officers to filter down onto the streets and it may take several months, or even years,  before our numbers are back up to full strength.

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“All this on top of the pressures we faced during the pandemic years and I’m not sure we are out of the woods yet in terms of COVID. I was struck down last week, as were a number of colleagues.

“The upshot of all of this is that those officers who remain on the front-line are under considerable pressure and are having to make significant personal sacrifices.

“I want to to publicly recognise the efforts and commitment of all the officers in the Scottish Borders who, not withstanding the relentless nature of policing, continue to turn out shift after shift.”

Committee chair Councillor Julie Pirone said: “I want to say on behalf of this board and the council in general that we apprecite and value the work the police and our emergency service colleagues do across the Scottish Borders.

“We are all concerned about the policing numbers and the job you have to do with a number of people working with you.”