THE cost-of-living crisis has led to an increase in some crimes within the Borders, a police chief has acknowledged.

The admission came from Chief Inspector Vincent Fisher, local area commander for the Borders, when he presented a crime report to members of Scottish Borders Council’s Police, Fire and Rescue and Safer Communities Board last week.

CI Fisher said that the main statistics represented a “good news story” with overall crime down 2.61 per cent.

But he added: “There are a few aspects that buck that trend, notably in domestic abuse, hate crime, sexual crime.

“In terms of domestic abuse incidents there has been an increase of 2.26 per cent compared to the five year average. Our detection rates are highly respectable and higher than the national average.

“Crimes of violence are up 47.5 per cent overall but we know a significant reason for that increase is the threats of extortion that occur on-line.”

Committee chair Tweeddale East councillor Julie Pirone asked if the cost-of-living crisis impacted on the increases.

CI Fisher accepted that it “absolutely did” – but stated that illegal drug use was another major factor.

He said: “I spoke to the DCI when I was compiling this report and that was his view that some of this is owing to the cost of living crisis, some of it is owing to the prevalence of crack cocaine, which has a quicker turnaround time.

“People need crack cocaine quicker than they would heroin or some of the other drugs that have been around a bit longer.

“So yes, I think a significant proportion of that is drug-related, so in the main there shouldn’t be reason for public panic as it’s almost all contained within the drug community.”

CI Fisher added: “In terms of anti-social behaviour and reducing that it is a good news story across the board, with the notable exception of fire-raising. Of the increase in that there are probably three main protagonists that we can attribute that rise to, who have been charged with multiple incidents of that.”