Edinburgh short of 'over 100' on police numbers, claims councillor

Edinburgh is more than 100 officers short of its fair share of police numbers, a Tory councillor has claimed.

Thursday, 7th October 2021, 12:30 pm

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After analysing statistics since the formation of Police Scotland, Jim Campbell said the percentage of Scotland’s police officers allocated to the Capital was the lowest since 2014, the year after the single force came into existence.

He said the city currently had 1,089 local police officers but according to Edinburgh’s population share, the city should have 1,210 – 121 more than at present.

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Councillor Jim Campbell says Edinburgh is 121 officers short of its fair share of police numbers

And he said more bobbies on the beat could help with a range of vital police work from tackling attacks on buses to preventing crime.

Councillor Campbell challenged Edinburgh police commander Chief Superintendent Sean Scott on the numbers at the council’s policy committee and asked why Edinburgh had so few officers.

Mr Scott said Police Scotland acknowledged the Capital needed extra officers. “The numbers in Edinburgh are now recognised as being not sufficient for the demand in the Edinburgh area.

“Edinburgh is at the front of the queue for acquiring that additional resource, based not only on the evidence of our quite sophistictated demand-profiling work but also our professional judgement.”

But he said there was no funding from the Scottish Government for more police, so the increase had to come from within the existing numbers.

A review was under way to release officers from non-operational roles back to the front line.

And the increase in numbers for Edinburgh would be gradual because it would come from additional recruitment and requests for transfer.

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The process would begin as soon as possible after the Cop26 environment summit.

He told the meeting: "There is an absolute commitment to make it happen.

"The number of officers that currently exist will be augmented over the next 12, 18 months, two years to get to a point where the number of officers meets the demand profile.”

Cllr Campbell said afterwards he was encouraged by Mr Scott’s comments, but added that assurances on the issue had been given before.

"I think it was a stronger commitment, more explicit and a greater acknowledgement that Edinburgh was under-resourced, but similar things have been said for some time.”

"We would need 121 local police officers to be added to Edinburgh to give us our fair share based on population – that’s an increase of over 11 per cent in local officers on the streets of Edinburgh to achieve parity for our citizens.”

Tory group leader Iain Whyte pointed to figures showing lower public satisfaction levels with the police in Edinburgh than for Scotland as a whole and wondered whether that was linked to the low number of officers.

The latest user satisfaction survey found 63.7 per cent felt they had been treated fairly by police in the Capital, compared with 66 per cent nationally; 76.6 per cent said they had been treated with respect, as against a national figure of 81.8 per cent; and the overall satisfaction rate was 70.6 per cent in Edinburgh and 71.7 per cent across Scotland.

Mr Scott said it was sometimes difficult to “get a handle” on the reasons for such findings but the force would be looking to see how the situation could be improved.

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