By Lucy Adams
Police Scotland is increasing the number of officers deployed in local policing divisions to support communities during the latest phase of the COVID pandemic.
More than 300 officers from specialist functions throughout Scotland will move to support colleagues in local policing divisions temporarily from Monday, 10 January, 2022.
At the same time, 258 probationary constables currently undergoing training at the Scottish Police College will also be deployed to local policing divisions.
The use of probationers and officers from specialist functions was successful both earlier in the pandemic and during the COP26 climate conference.
Assistant Chief Constable Alan Speirs said “We are working hard to maximise the availability of officers and staff in frontline duties to ensure that we continue to provide a highly effective policing service to our local communities.
“Omicron is having a significant effect on the country and Police Scotland is included in that. The welfare of our officers and staff is paramount and has been throughout the pandemic.
“As a national service we can quickly flex resources and move people to where they are needed and respond to increased demand and high absence levels.
“By deploying these extra resources we can support local policing and keep people safe during this critical time.”
Special constable numbers fall by 68% since police centralisation
Police doing community liaison work at the Luss Highland Games on Loch Lomondside.
Meanwhile, LibDem justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP has warned the police’s Special Constabulary are a vanishing species after he revealed that their numbers have nosedived since the SNP’s police centralisation.
Scottish Liberal Democrat freedom of information requests have revealed there were 1,394 in 2013/14, but this has fallen to just 453 in September 2021, a decrease of 68%.
Special constables operate on a part-time and voluntary basis, exercising similar powers to police officers and helping boost the police’s presence in communities.
Mr McArthur commented: “On the SNP’s watch, the special constable is now a vanishing species. At the current rate of decline there will be none left by 2025.
“Special constables perform a valuable role and enhance the police’s presence in communities across Scotland. It’s a shame to see a role with a proud history being allowed to wither away.
“We all know the pressures on police officers and staff, who we expect to step up in our moment of need. It is also clear from the most recent staff survey that they are struggling with exhaustion, stress and mental health problems. That makes it all the more important therefore to ensure they have the support they need.
“The SNP Government must now repair the damage done by its botched centralisation. That includes protecting the future of the Special Constabulary and giving officers and staff the resources that they need to do their jobs.”