SNP maintains controversial 1,000 police officer policy

Michael Matheson

The number of additional police officers in Scotland

has been maintained at more than 1,000 compared to 2007, in keeping with the SNP’s manifesto commitment.

Scotland’s chief statistician published statistics on Police Officer Quarterly Strength, which gives the number of full-time equivalent police officers employed by Police Scotland.

The key findings of the statistics are:

  • There were 17,261 full-time equivalent (FTE) police officers in Scotland on 30 September 2015.
  • This is an increase of 1,027 FTE police officers (+6.3 per cent) from the 16,234 police officers recorded at 31 March 2007.
  • Police officer numbers have decreased by 11 FTE officers in the last quarter from 30 June 2015 (-0.1 per cent), and have decreased by 6 FTE officers in the last year from 30 September 2014.

The statistics show that there were 17,261 police officers on September 30 2015, an increase of 6.3 per cent per cent or 1,027 officers since March 31, 2007.

Commenting on the publication, Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: “Recorded crime is at a 41 year low, with violent crime down 55 per cent since 2006-07 and this government’s commitment to maintain police officer numbers above 17,234 has been met in every quarter of this administration.

“Police officer numbers continue to exceed targets and demonstrates that, through working in partnership with Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority, we continue to exceed the commitment we gave to the people of Scotland to deliver 1,000 additional officers.”

However, the policy has been widely criticised.

Martin Fotheringham

In September, Martin Fotheringham, vice-president of the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents  said allowing police numbers to fall would prevent more devastating cuts in other parts of the force.

He highlighted the number of police officers who were forced to fill administrative roles due to a shortage of back-office staff caused by budgetary pressure.

The SNP‘s commitment to maintain 1,000 more police officers than they inherited at the end of the Labour-Liberal Democrat administration in 2007 was a key party pledge in the past two Scottish Parliament elections.

Mr Fotheringham said at the time: “There is clearly some significant budget pressure and challenges ahead.

“We would like to see an intelligent conversation to consider all of the options.

“Included within that would absolutely be whether the lock-in on 1,000 additional officers remains the right policy, or whether it’s time to review that and look at more of a mixed staffing model.

“That’s not on the table at the moment because of the manifesto commitment.”