SNP 'fulfils pledge' with 1,000 more police on Scots streets
THE number of police officers in Scotland rose at the end of last year, halting a slide in force recruitment, Scottish Government figures revealed yesterday.
The increase, of 56 officers, meant there were 17,273 policemen and women working in Scotland on 31 December – 1,039 more than when the SNP came to power in 2007.
Increasing police numbers by 1,000 was a key pledge in the party's manifesto, a promise that looked shaky in December when officer numbers dropped by 61.
The latest statistics were hailed by the justice secretary, Kenny MacAskill, but opposition politicians warned that a looming budget cut could see numbers fall back again.
Mr MacAskill said: "The Scottish Government pledged to deliver a more visible police presence in our communities, which is why we are committed to increasing the number of police officers by 1,000 by the end of this parliament.
"We have surpassed the 1,000 extra officers, and the rising trend is the result of the Scottish Government's commitment to funding the recruitment, training and salaries of additional officers."
But Labour's justice spokesman, Richard Baker, warned: "There is no point crowing over police officer numbers today if they are going to fall in years to come.
"Kenny MacAskill is responsible for forcing Scotland's police into the worst budget crisis in decades."
The Liberal Democrats' justice spokesman, Robert Brown, said: "
(We] are concerned that funding cuts forces like Strathclyde are facing in 2010 are going to have a negative effect on numbers of police on streets."
The total number of officers across the country rose by 598 during 2009. Strathclyde , the largest force in Scotland, accounted for half of the 56 new officers in the last quarter of 2009.
The situation elsewhere was mixed, with Central Scotland, Northern and Lothian and Borders seeing small rises. Dumfries and Galloway, Fife and Grampian Police saw numbers drop, while Tayside remained the same.
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