OPINION by Chief Inspector Stuart Fletcher, the local area commander for the Scottish Borders

EVERYONE should be able to enjoy a working environment where they are able to thrive and flourish, knowing they are valued for their true and authentic selves, without experiencing discrimination of any kind and that is why we are proud to support Race Equality Week.

This is an annual UK-wide awareness event, uniting thousands of organisations and individuals to address the barriers to race equality in the workplace.

One of our strengths as a police service is that our officers and staff come from different communities and our workforce is more diverse and representative than ever before.

Policing in Scotland draws its legitimacy from the consent and bond of trust we have with our fellow citizens and we must always maintain and build the confidence of all the communities we serve.

That trust is vital in assisting us to meet the significant responsibility of ensuring Scotland is a safe, secure and welcoming place.

In 2022, our former Chief Constable Sir Iain Livingstone QPM, set a clear commitment that Police Scotland will become an anti-racist service and we aim to achieve that objective through ongoing tangible and meaningful action which provides the knowledge and tools required to better ourselves and raise our standards.

Race Equality Week features as part of our annual cultural calendar, which is one of the ways we will highlight the benefits of equality and inclusion, and provide a platform for colleagues to demonstrate our values of integrity, fairness, respect and a commitment to upholding human rights.

In 2022, Police Scotland launched its Policing Together strategy, which outlines the action we are taking to champion equality and inclusion, so that we tackle discrimination and become a service where every officer and member of staff feels welcome.

We continue to strive to meet the aims and objectives of this very meaningful strategy.

Looking ahead to the upcoming months, we are urging dog owners to be aware of the laws and act responsibly around livestock ahead of the lambing season starting.

Officers work closely alongside NFU Scotland and rural communities throughout the year and the lambing season months are of particular importance for farmers and their livestock.

Dogs chasing livestock can do some serious damage.

The stress of the chase alone is enough to cause animals to die or pregnant animals to miscarry.

As well as the distress and harm caused to animals, these incidents have both a financial and emotional impact on farmers.

If a dog is found to have worried livestock then the owner and, if different, handler of the dog at the time, could face criminal action.

I want to finish this column by wishing the Chinese members of our Borders communities a very happy Chinese New Year, which takes place on Saturday, February 10, as we enter the Year of the Dragon.

Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival, has more than 4,000 years of history and is the grandest and most important annual event for Chinese people.

We hope that, for all of those who observe this holiday, it is a peaceful and prosperous year.