South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has demanded the Scottish Government give a “categoric assurance” that police numbers in the region will not fall any lower.
Speaking in the Scottish Parliament last week, the local MSP questioned the Justice Secretary over cuts in police numbers. Angela Constance claimed there were 349 local officers in the region, but those figures were from the last workforce update in June. In a recent report to Dumfries and Galloway Council, the current figure was placed at “around 320”- down from 411 in June 2020.
Speaking in the Scottish Parliament Colin Smyth said: “Despite being the third-biggest region in Scotland, Dumfries and Galloway has the smallest number of local officers of all the local policing divisions—at the moment, it has just 320 officers, not the 349 that the cabinet reported having in June.
“It has far fewer officers than the 411 it had in June 2020.
“That has led to community policing being dismantled in many parts of the region.
“Given the recent warnings by Police Scotland’s deputy chief officer of more cuts to come, can the cabinet secretary give a categoric assurance to my constituents in Dumfries and Galloway that there will be no further reductions in the already low level of officer numbers?”
Speaking after the question session, Colin Smyth said: “The consistent drop we’ve seen in police numbers in our region is deeply worrying.
“Dumfries and Galloway is a huge geographic area and we need local police officers on the ground.
“The response from Justice Secretary that the Scottish Government is increasing resources to the police is hopelessly out of touch when we are seeing cuts in police numbers and warnings from senior officers in Police Scotland that there is more to come. It was very telling that the Justice Secretary made no commitment that police numbers won’t fall any lower in Dumfries and Galloway.”