The Scottish Government has been accused of trying to “hoodwink” the public over police numbers.
The latest official figures showed the SNP’s commitment to provide 1,000 more officers continued to be met even though there had been a slight dip in staff over the last 12 months.
The equivalent of 17,245 full-time officers were employed by Police Scotland on September 30 2016 – a fall of 16 from the same date in 2015 but 1,011 higher than when the SNP came to power in 2007.
Opposition parties, however, claim there is a spike in officer numbers when the quarterly snapshot is taken.
Labour justice spokeswoman Claire Baker said it would be “completely unacceptable” if official statistics were being “spun”.
Tory justice spokesman Douglas Ross accused the SNP of “trying to hoodwink people on officer numbers”.
The Conservative said: “It’s no use pretending you are meeting targets if for the majority of the quarter you are well below them and we need to establish exactly who is behind this attempt to hide the true facts.”
Justice secretary Michael Matheson said: “We will continue to support Police Scotland and partner agencies to meet these demands, ensuring they have the right mix of officers and specialist staff.”