Police out in force with more officers than ever claims SNP
SCOTLAND has more police officers than ever before, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill claimed today.
Figures released by the Scottish Government showed there were 16,339 full-time equivalent officers across the country at the end of June, an increase of 118 compared to the previous quarter and the highest figure ever recorded.
In Lothian and Borders there were a total of 2868 officers – 32 more than three months ago and 69 more than a year ago.
Boosting police numbers was a key manifesto pledge when the SNP won power in last year's Holyrood elections.
But earlier in the summer, the SNP was under fire after statistics showed the total number of officers at the end of March had fallen by 45 since the previous year.
Labour described that drop from 16,266 to 16,221 as a "damning indictment" of the SNP's policy on police recruitment.
However, today Mr MacAskill said the latest figures demonstrated the Scottish Government's commitment to increased policing in Scotland.
He said: "We are committed to a greater visible police presence, deterring crime and reassuring our citizens. This welcome increase in the number of officers is in part the result of our direct recruitment of new officers, over and above the recruitment plans of our police forces."
Today he was visiting Craigmillar police station to meet members of the Lothian and Borders force, including one of the new recruits and a training sergeant.
The SNP has pledged a total of 94 million to recruit an extra 1000 officers by the end of March 2011.
Mr MacAskill said: "We have set out plans to deliver a more visible policing presence on Scotland's streets and make an additional 1000 officers available in our communities.
"We are not just delivering on this but going substantially beyond, by also looking at recruitment, retention and redeployment.
"Last year, as we promised, 150 officers were recruited and paid for by the Scottish Government and are currently working in Scotland's communities.
"This year we are directly funding the recruitment of another 450 over and above forces' previous plans."
A further 200 additional officers are due to be recruited each year in 2009-10 and 2010-11.
And Mr MacAskill insisted the 1000 target would be met.
He said: "We inherited the lowest recruitment since devolution, with many officers due to retire. We've tackled that challenge head-on, and although these latest figures are reassuring, there remains much work to be done. But we are confident the resources and policies now in place will deliver improved policing for Scotland."
Earlier this week there were claims the Government had fallen short of its 150 recruitment target last year.
Police forces had indicated they planned to recruit around 173 new officers last year, before the SNP's announcement of 150 extra recruits.
But the police college at Tulliallan said only 270 had been trained – 53 short of the forecast number.
However, the Government said forces' recruitment plans changed constantly and the apparent gap was down to that, not a shortfall in the Government's pledged figure.
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