Police column from Local Area Commander, Scottish Borders Chief Inspector Stuart Fletcher.

"In my first article since I took over from Chief Inspector Vinnie Fisher as the Local Area Commander for the Scottish Borders I wanted to take the opportunity to introduce myself and outline some of the priorities I have in continuing to deliver policing services across the area.

"I consider myself fortunate to have started my policing career in the Scottish Borders, some 25 years ago, when I was stationed at Peebles.

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"I spent my formative policing days experiencing the challenges, and rewards, of providing a service to the many diverse communities across the Borders and I learned of the high expectations that local people have of their police officers.

"After completing my probation I subsequently moved to Edinburgh where I worked in a variety of roles, mainly focused around community work and partnership engagement.

"After the inception of Police Scotland in 2013 I worked in national roles, supporting Scottish Local Authorities in their implementation of Counter Terrorism policy.

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"In 2019 I returned to operational policing, working first at Livingston, before moving to the Deputy Local Area Commander position in East Lothian. In 2022, whilst working within the Divisional Coordination Unit, I engaged with local communities to identify the priorities for policing that would be set out in the Lothians and Scottish Borders Local Police Plan 2023-26.

"I am delighted to have the opportunity to work in the Scottish Borders again as your Local Area Commander and to put my years of policing experience to use in delivering a high quality of service.

"I know that the Borders is made up of many unique, and proud, communities and I want to be as visible as I possibly can, both to my colleagues, partners and local people. We know that Police Scotland faces significant financial pressures at this time, but I am committed to working to ensure a policing response to issues that is both proportionate and appropriate, whilst working collaboratively to ensure our resources are deployed to the greatest benefit of the communities that we serve.

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"I know that communities have highlighted that anti-social behaviour is a key priority for them and I will ensure that our community officers work jointly with partners to tackle quality of life issues in local areas. In addition, the recent discovery of the large-scale cannabis cultivation in Galashiels demonstrates just how we will continue to act on what communities tell us and how we will tackle the corrosive impact of drug supply in local areas.

"The uniqueness of the Scottish Borders also presents some other challenges and I am committed to working along with partners to tackle rural crime, including building on joint-working with police colleagues south of the border.

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"Improving Road Safety is another key area of work, something that already exists in an established environment of partnership work.

"I am fortunate to have inherited a committed, enthusiastic and hard-working team of officers and staff from Chief Inspector Fisher and it is my honour and privilege to now lead them in delivering a service to the people of the Scottish Borders.

"I have been struck by the warm welcome I have received from my colleagues and communities in the short time I have been in post and I look forward to meeting many of you in the months and years to come."