The number of police officers pounding the streets has dropped by almost 70 since the creation of the single Scottish force in 2013.
One politician has told how policing is “chronically underfunded” and accused the SNP of using “smoke and mirrors” to confuse the public over figures
It comes as data revealed that Renfrewshire and Inverclyde policing division had a total of 678 officers in 2013 – but the number had dropped to 610 by September this year.
Police Scotland figures show there are 4131 “available” officers for the area – known as K Division – with a “total resource complement” of 610 officers, which include divisional road policing, community teams and CID.
“Specialist” resources, including 1549 officers regionally under West Command, who are drafted in for Major Investigation and Armed Policing assistance and 1972 throughout Scotland who provide expertise in areas such as the National Rape Investigation Unit, human trafficking and mounted officers – are included in the larger figure.
Police Scotland’s own figures also show that the number of officers across Scotland has declined by 840 since the merger – with the biggest reduction in Glasgow, where the number now stands at 2402, down by 312.
The Scottish Conservatives’ Russell Findlay, says the Scottish Government has used duped the public on officer numbers.
“They also say the number of police officers is ‘carefully manipulated in advance of each quarterly reporting period’ and this is done to ‘ensure the number is presentationally maintained only’.”
The West of Scotland politician added: “Such smoke and mirrors tactics by the SNP government is completely dishonest. Our police face competing and increasing demands on their resources, not least the boom in online criminality, but those needs cannot come at the cost of losing officers from our streets.”
But Police Scotland’s Operations Superintendent for Renfrewshire and Inverclyde, David Pettigrew, said the drop in numbers reflects modern policing methods.
He said: “Frontline policing is changing and goes beyond the uniformed officers on the street that the public will see, with the growing range of online threats becoming a bigger part of our policing response every day.
“Officers from our national specialist units also work in less visible, but no less vital, frontline roles which protect local communities, such as preventing and investigating serious and organised crime, cybercrime, and the abuse of children and vulnerable people. Each one of these crimes takes place in a local community or home.”
The Superintendent added: “We are taking steps to support local policing and, by way of example, Flexible Response Unit officers have returned to their local policing divisions for the foreseeable future.
“We remain committed to building a modern and flexible workforce that reflects and serves all our communities and their changing needs.”
Source: (Daily Record)