SNP under fire over Edinburgh police numbers

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TORIES have launched an attack on the SNP over figures showing the number of police officers in the Capital has fallen.

According to latest statistics, there are 33 fewer officers in Edinburgh since 2013 and 45 fewer in the Lothians and Scottish Borders.

Police numbers have dropped by 33 in Edinburgh.

Police numbers have dropped by 33 in Edinburgh.

Lothian MSP and Tory legal affairs spokesman Gordon Lindhurst said there had been a nationwide fall in officers to the lowest level in nine years.

He said: “The Scottish Police Federation have said these figures will mean fewer patrols on our streets.

“And people phoning in about crimes are being told there is no-one available to deal with the situation.

“This is all despite pledges from the SNP that numbers wouldn’t drop below the stated minimum. The SNP must respond to public concern for community safety.”

The SNP came into power in 2007 committed to 1000 extra police. That target was first met in 2009 and the number of officers has remained at above or about 17,250 since then.

But it dipped to 17,170 in the first three months of this year.

Challenged at First Minister’s Questions yesterday, Nicola Sturgeon said the police had asked for the ability to rebalance the workforce by moving officers from back-room to frontline roles.

And she insisted: “The number of police officers in Scotland is 963 more than the number that we inherited in 2007.”

Edinburgh police commander Chief Superintendent Richard Thomas said policing had faced unprecedented challenges over the past ten years, not least the increasing demand and tighter budgets.

But he said: “It is not the case that officers have been lost from the division. However, a small number have been moved to other departments or specialist roles, which support the city on a daily basis.

“An example of this is armed policing, whose officers patrol in the Capital on a daily basis, keeping people safe from the threat of terrorism and will now be deployed in more general policing duties.

“Likewise custody division operates within Edinburgh and has a greater capacity now to deal with prisoner processing following increases to their establishment.

“Additionally, the Police Scotland control centre at Bilston now has more capacity to deal with public calls at the point of contact, which is yet another benefit to the officers working in Edinburgh.”

He said a key part of the policing model for the city was to work with the council, social work, education, health, voluntary organisations and other emergency services and the approach had led to successes in tackling housebreaking and addressing motorcycle-related crime throughout the city.

“Our communities can rest assured that our resourcing level is continually monitored and reviewed and wherever we identify a requirement to dedicate officers to a particular area of Edinburgh, or to address a specific issue, we will not hesitate to do so.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com