Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill has welcomed figures showing police
numbers are on target
Scottish News: Scotland meets police targets but mood for strike action in England spreads
by Jamie Mann
Scotland’s police numbers have exceeded the target set in 2007, according to new figures published by the Scottish government.
Statistics from Justice Analytical Services showed a 7.4 percent increase of just over 1200 officers since the end of March 2007.
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The total number of Scottish officers reached 17,436 police officers at the end of last year, down by 18 officers compared with 30 September.
The news comes ahead of the merging of Scotland’s eight regional police forces into a single Scottish service next month.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill welcomed the statistics, he said:
“These statistics show that the target to ensure 1,000 extra police officers is continuing to be exceeded and that is great news for communities across Scotland.
“Our additional officers are keeping our streets safe and have helped reduce recorded crime to its lowest level for 37 years. Meanwhile the crime clear-up rate is at its highest in more than 30 years and confidence in the police is also high and increasing.”
However, the figures were met with scepticism from opposition parties.
The Scottish Liberal Democrats said that the figures “don’t tell the whole story”.
Lib Dem justice spokesperson Alison McInnes MSP said:
“While it’s good news that Police numbers remain high, they don’t tell the whole story. Budget cuts mean that more officers are being taken off their beats in order to fulfil civilian roles.
“Kenny MacAskill’s arbitrary ‘1000 extra officers’ pledge is simply placing handcuffs on the Chief Constable as he tries to manage the transition to a single force.”
The Scottish Conservatives warned that despite numbers remaining stable over the past three months, too many officers are confined to the back office.
There are now 1400 serving officers on restricted duty compared to only 506 in 2006, according the Tories.
Scottish Conservative Chief Whip John Lamont MSP said:
“The Scottish Government needs to explain why hundreds more officers are unable to work at the coalface compared to only a few years ago.
“We need police on the streets – simply pointing to attractive statistics when so many are on restricted duty is worthless.
“With the single force taking effect in less than a month, this is something that has to be addressed as a matter of urgency.”
In light of the figures, the SNP went on to criticise the policing in south of the border, insisting that Scotland’s police service “could not be more different” to that in England and Wales.
Justice Committee member Sandra White said:
“While the Scottish Government has kept its promise to protect police posts, the situation south of the Border could not be more different - it is a tale of two governments.
“In England and Wales, police numbers have fallen to their lowest level in 11 years and people living there have seen police numbers slashed and services cut.”
The Police Federation of England held a ballot to strike as a result of Westminster’s Winsor review on policing cuts, pay and conditions.
However, the right to strike was forfeited after less than half of its members voted.
45,651 backed the right to strike while 10,681 were against, but the ballot was void as the majority of the Federation’s 133,000 members across England and Wales failed to vote, according to Sky News.
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