Police numbers have fallen every quarter since Keith Brown became justice secretary

By Lucy Ashton  

The number of police officers in Scotland has fallen in every quarter since Keith Brown was appointed SNP justice secretary.

The officer headcount is currently at its lowest level since 2008 – and the decline in staffing levels has been steady and continual over the last 18 months.

When Keith Brown took over up the post in May 2021 there were 17,289 officers. However, that tally has dropped in each subsequent quarter and, as of September 2022, it stood at just 16,570 – a drop of more than 700.

Tory spokesman Jamie Greene (left) is highly critical of Justice Secretary Keith Brown.

The plummeting numbers have coincided with the justice secretary welcoming a recent recommendation which proposed dropping the 17,234 officer target.

Shadow justice secretary Jamie Greene insisted public safety was being put at risk by the fall, and he called on the SNP to reverse “dangerous” cuts to the justice budget.

Jamie Greene MSP said: “These figures are truly appalling and highlight once again how low a priority justice is for the SNP.  The number of police officers is worryingly low – and only heading in one direction.

“Keith Brown ought to be ashamed that he has presided over these remorseless falls, but by giving his public backing to ditching minimum officer numbers it seems he has given up fighting for a properly-resourced Police Scotland.

“It’s little wonder that violent crime is rising when police officers across Scotland are being asked to fight crime with one hand tied behind their back by the SNP government.

“Our police work tirelessly day and night to keep the public safe, yet they are being let down by the justice secretary.

“The SNP’s dangerous justice cuts are putting public safety at risk and must be reversed.”


  1. No shortage of money to spend £10 million pursuing Alex Salmond, or MP’s like Margaret Ferrier, or journalists like Craig Murray or a single mother of two who displayed a purple ribbon and who Police thought constituted an anti Trans crime.

    No shortage of monies either whist during Covid lock down the they provided extensive protection to the then PM Boris Johnson who flew to Scotland for a whirlwind publicity shoot. No concern either, in fact a resolute refusal to do anything about the PM making an unjustified and illegal trip that broke all the travel rules. But hey, the PM wasn’t the only one able to flaunt the law. Not so of course for the ordinary folks stopped and issued fixed fines for walking the West Highland Way, having more than two people from other families in their house etc etc.

    Indeed on that, there was a family in the Bonhill area who had a father and his two sons watching a Rangers – Celtic game along with two friends. And guess what three police cars, six officers arrived sealing off the front and back of the house before searching the house and then issuing eighty pound fixed penalty fines. Of course there was much more of that right across Scotland.

    But to quote an unnamed individual in the Crown Office. The Police have lost control of violent crime. And you know what, that’s right, because they’ve got other priorities.

    Trust is now sadly very much broken and that is a tragedy not just for society but also too for so many of the young officers trying to make a career and do a difficult job in a politically biased organisation like Police Scotland.

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