Fewer police officers on Capital streets as ‘frustration’ grows in force

There is one police officer for every 439 people in Edinburgh and for every 378 people in the Lothians. Picture: Greg Macvean
There is one police officer for every 439 people in Edinburgh and for every 378 people in the Lothians. Picture: Greg Macvean
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FEWER police are patrolling Lothians streets than five years ago when forces were merged, official figures reveal.

There are 24 fewer officers in the Capital this year than in 2013 and 36 fewer in the Lothians and Scottish Borders region.

The Police Scotland numbers prompted calls for more funding from the Tories, while senior officers stressed the force can call on specialist units as support.

But Tory Lothian MSP Miles Briggs said: “Communities across Edinburgh and the Lothians will be very concerned about the reduced number of police officers since the formation of Police Scotland.

“Fewer police officers means less of a police presence, which is so important for preventing crime and detecting criminal behaviour. Having enough police officers is crucial for keeping members of the public safe as well as tackling crime.

“SNP ministers must provide Police Scotland with the resources that they need for them to do their job properly.”

The Scottish Police Federation has repeatedly highlighted the cuts in operational police officers and its impact.

Federation chairman Andrew Malcolm said: “We are focusing on the wrong elements, cutting officers and increasing consultants.

“Our members are frustrated that they often cannot respond to incidents due to a lack of resources.

“We have repeatedly stated that Edinburgh and the surrounding area is often under resourced and over stretched.

“Police officers are run ragged and are at breaking point. Their frustrations are palpable as they know the public deserves a better service than they are able to give them.”

Mr Malcolm slammed as “simply unforgivable” money being spent on “carpet-bagging blue sky thinkers” instead of frontline police.

Edinburgh’s 1,156 officers account for one per 439 residents, while Lothians’ 928 mean one per 378 people.

The 12,682 officers nationally amounted to a drop of 326. Greater Glasgow was the hardest hit with 153 officers lost, while the country’s north-east gained 32.

Senior officers stressed their commitment to providing the “highest level of policing” and said traffic cops, murder detectives, dog units and armed officers bolster the numbers.

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “The undoubted benefit to a single force is that all divisions throughout Scotland can call on assistance and support from specialist colleagues whenever they are required.”

Half of the officers deployed in the Capital during festival season have been drafted in from other areas, the spokesman added. A Scottish Government spokesman said numbers of officers had risen by 938 since 2007, while crime was down to record levels.

The spokesman said a focus on crime prevention and partnerships to keep people safe had helped bring recorded crime down by around a third over the past decade.

“Scotland’s unified police force means that communities across the country now benefit from the specialist national and regional expertise, which Police Scotland is investing in,” he said. “This national and regional expertise includes frontline officers in various divisions who are deployed across Scotland as and when local needs arise.”

West Lothian’s Blackburn police station is meanwhile among 30 facilities across the country that have been put up for sale. A commercial property specialist has been appointed by the Scottish Police Authority to manage the sale of the buildings.

Mr Briggs said: “The sale of former police stations across Scotland is a consequence of SNP ministers not providing Scottish police services with adequate resources over the last 11 years.”