By Bill Heaney
Jackie Baillie has expressed her concern after it emerged there are 40 fewer police officers employed in Argyll and West Dunbartonshire than there were seven years ago.
The number has declined from a headcount of 545 in 2016/17 to just 505 in the last year.
The whole-time equivalent has also fallen by the same margin, from 540.668 in 2016/17 to 501.768 up to December last year. This represents a fall of over seven percent. Meanwhile the number of civilian staff has remained broadly the same.
The statistics were released to Dame Jackie, the Dumbarton constituency MSP, through a Freedom of Information request.
This follows concern by outgoing Chief Constable Sir Iain Livingstone regarding Police Scotland’s budget under the SNP government. He sent a letter to all Local Police Commanders earlier this year laying bare the severity of the situation.
Dame Jackie Baillie and Sir Iain Livingstone.
In the stark correspondence, he said that it was not possible for the levels of staffing currently available to continue to provide the existing service and that savings were necessary.
Given the figures released to Jackie Baillie, this has raised concern that police numbers could fall even further.
Jackie Baillie said: “These stark figures reveal just how ineffectual the SNP’s alleged commitment to policing is.
“The outgoing Chief Constable has already taken aim at the government for under-funding and these local statistics show how this is playing out in communities across West Dunbartonshire, Helensburgh and Lomond.
“Police numbers have fallen over the last seven years and could be set to decrease even further.
“All of this come against a backdrop of violence and knife crime taking place in Balloch and serious vigilante incidents which have risked the safety of innocent people within our communities in Dumbarton and the Vale of Leven.
“The police acted quickly to bring this trouble under control but under finite resources, this cannot be sustained.
“It is not acceptable to reduce police numbers so significantly and expect our communities to remain as safe as they were with more officers. The SNP must make police workforce planning a priority and ensure communities are not at risk of greater harm due to their inaction.”
- Police staffing numbers (officers and civilians) supplied through FOI.
- Dumbarton crime: Jackie Baillie’s plea after ‘unacceptable’ disorder | Dumbarton and Vale of Leven Reporter (dumbartonreporter.co.uk)
- Brucehill and Bonhill incidents show the need for a greater police presence says MSP – Daily Record