Sunday, November 04, 2007

Scottish Government set no targets for Police recruiting

Despite the promised 1000 extra Police officers from the SNP prior to winning the election, it now transpires there have been no targets set for Police recruits ...

BBC News reports :

'No target' for police recruiting

The Scottish Government has not set any "numerical target" for increasing police recruitment, it has emerged.

The statement came in response to a parliamentary question from Scottish Labour.

It comes as the Scottish Police Federation claimed less than 10% of officers were on the beat, with others resting, in court or doing paperwork.

The SNP pledged in its manifesto that its first budget would contain plans for "1,000 more police".

But it has now said that the plans to boost police numbers would not come from taking on new officers alone.

The Scottish Government has not set a numerical target for the number of police officers that forces should employ - Kenny MacAskill Justice Secretary

There are currently just over 16,000 officers in Scotland.

Last month, First Minister Alex Salmond said an increase of 1,000 officers "in communities" would be in recruitment, retention and redeployment.

In a parliamentary question, Labour has now asked how many officers the SNP planned to employ by May 2011.

In his reply, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: "The Scottish Government has not set a numerical target for the number of police officers that forces should employ."

A government spokesman added that recruitment would, however, be "substantial".

Scottish Labour leader Wendy Alexander said she was astonished.

Ms Alexander said: "The SNP's plans to hire more police officers are in complete chaos.

"Before the election they made a very clear promise to hire 1,000 extra police officers.

"Not only have they now dropped this pledge, they admit they are not even going to try to meet it."

Meanwhile, in responses to the Scottish Parliament justice committee inquiry into the effective use of police resources, the Scottish Police Federation said it believed less than one in 10 officers was available for deployment over any 24 hour period.

The scale of the SNP betrayal over its broken police pledge only grows
Annabel Goldie - Scottish Conservative leader

The figures, compiled by Acpos in 2002 across Scotland's eight forces after a report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, estimate that at any given time, taking into account annual leave, rest days, court work and paperwork, only 7.5% of officers were available for deployment.

The Federation added: "Clearly this report is now five years out of date but our view is that if there has been any significant change, it has not been for the better.

"Clearly, we will never get to a situation where there is a police officer on every street corner but SPF sees a substantial increase for 24/7 response policing as an absolute requirement."

Scottish Conservative leader Annabel Goldie said: "When you read this evidence, and other submissions detailing just how stretched our police are, the scale of the SNP betrayal over its broken police pledge only grows.

"Scottish Conservatives have continually pointed out that there are fewer than 150 police officers on the beat in Scotland at any one time, and this stark reality is reflected throughout the submissions."

A Scottish Government spokesman said it was committed to making 1,000 more officers "available".

He added: "It is about ensuring a genuine improvement in how policing is delivered in our communities.

"This will involve substantial additional recruitment but also improved retention and the smart redeployment of existing officers."

The Scottish Government is to put forward its budget plans in the spending review on 14 November.

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