Figures show SNP fulfilled police vow
The SNP's pledge to recruit 1,000 extra police officers was fulfilled during the last Scottish Parliament, official figures show.
The number of officers in Scotland reached 17,263 in the first three months of this year. This is up 1,029 on 2007, just before the SNP came into power and 46 more than that recorded in the final quarter of last year. But the figure is 146 down on a year ago, at the end of March 2010.
Justice secretary Kenny MacAskill welcomed the figures, but insisted that fundamental changes to policing in Scotland were still necessary to maintain current officer numbers in the face of looming spending cuts by Westminster.
Mr MacAskill said: "My priority is local policing in communities, and I welcome these latest figures, which show officer numbers remain significantly higher than when we came to office, with visible policing helping drive crime to a 32-year low."
However, he added: "Protecting local policing in the long term will not be possible unless we reform the service."
The country's eight forces are expected to be cut back to three or possibly just one under plans being considered by the Scottish Government.
Last month it emerged that three-quarters of members of the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents believe that retaining current policing levels cannot be maintained.
Labour justice spokesman James Kelly said: "We need answers from the SNP government that they have resources in place to keep every one of these officers out on the beat."
Conservative justice spokesman John Lamont said his party "forced" the SNP to deliver the 1,000 extra police and said they must be retained.
Liberal Democrat Justice spokesperson Alison McInnes added: "Police chiefs from across Scotland have warned that the flawed SNP proposals for a single national police force could see over 3,000 police officers robbed from our streets."
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