THE number of police officers in Edinburgh has dropped by 40 since the formation of Police Scotland – and another 40 have gone from the next-door Lothians & Scottish Borders division.
Latest figures show police strength across the country at its lowest for nearly a decade with 17,147 full-time equivalent officers.
The last time it was lower was in early 2009, when the total was 17,048.
Since the creation of the single force in 2013, Edinburgh has been reduced from 1,180 officers to 1,140 and Lothians & Scottish Borders from 964 to 924.
Edinburgh Southern MSP and Labour justice spokesman Daniel Johnson said the figures for the Capital were particularly concerning.
He said: “If you look at the level of policing Edinburgh has in comparison with other parts of the country, it does look like we have a lower level.
“With the 11 per cent increase in crime which the latest figures pointed to, people in Edinburgh will be concerned. The police do an amazing job and work tirelessly but there is only so much you can do there are not enough officers.
“If you talk to officers doing the job, they are extremely busy going from call to call, to the extent they are having to stop doing one thing because something more urgent comes in.
“Having more police officers would enable the police to respond to everything they would want to and spend the time they need. That’s what the police want.”
And Lothian Tory MSP Gordon Lindhurst MSP said the statistics should serve as a wake-up call.
He said: “It is extremely concerning to see that officers numbers are continuing to fall in Edinburgh and across the Lothian region too.
“Having a visible police presence is vital for reassuring communities that they will be kept safe against the threat of crime.
“It is clear that the creation of Police Scotland has had a negative effect on officer numbers locally and the SNP must provide the resources to our police service to reverse the decrease in officers on the beat.
“These figures should act as a wake-up call that more officers are needed in our capital and across the Lothians in order to give people confidence that they will not be at risk from crime.”
Fellow Lothians Tory MSP Miles Briggs said: “Edinburgh has the fastest growing population in Scotland, which means we need more police officers, not less.”
Edinburgh police commander Chief Superintendent Gareth Blair said: “We remain committed to providing a quality police service to residents and visitors to Edinburgh. This is achieved through the provision of resources to respond to incidents as well as carrying out vital engagement with members of the public.
“In addition to local officers, Edinburgh division can call upon a range of specialist resources and departments should they be required, with the recent operation to combat anti-social behaviour surrounding bonfire night an example.
“Our priority is to keep communities in Edinburgh safe.”