Monday, October 08, 2007

SNP broke promise on 1,000 extra Police - say Labour & Tories

The Scottish Conservatives, never a party for keeping any promises in their existence, unless it was to their rich donors of course, come forth to criticise the SNP for a breach of their promise to recruit 1,000 extra Police Officers.

Do we really need 1,000 extra Police Officers ? or how about freeing some of those existing from the vast array of paperwork required to deal with every single incident ?

Perhaps the Tories could lend a helping hand to Scotland and demand back some of the oil revenue their previous Westminster Governments have taken from Scotland to fund the vast new army of Police allegedly required ...

The Scotsman reports :

Ministers hit by fresh attack over promise to recruit 1,000 extra police


THE Scottish Government came under renewed pressure yesterday over its pledge to recruit 1,000 extra police officers.

Annabel Goldie, the Tory leader, has written to Alex Salmond demanding he clarify the situation.

And Labour MSP Jackie Baillie accused the SNP of breaking their promise.

Uncertainty over the manifesto promise arose after ministers said they would increase the capacity of the police by "the equivalent" of 1,000 extra officers. The SNP election manifesto had stated: "We will set out plans in our first budget for 1,000 more police."

Kenny MacAskill, the justice secretary, said previously that would be met through a combination of recruiting new officers, retaining existing staff and redeploying officers to frontline duties.

Yesterday he said an announcement on the issue would be made in the coming weeks as part of the budget process.

But Miss Goldie said unless the government could say when the current force of about 16,200 officers would be increased to about 17,200 it would stand accused of a "cynical breach of trust".

She said: "The SNP election manifesto could not have been clearer.

"The pledge was not to reassign existing officers, but to recruit 1,000 more."

In her letter to Mr Salmond she said: "You promised 1,000 new police officers. You identified the funding and it is not dependant on the budget or the Comprehensive Spending Review."

She challenged ministers: "It's time to tell the truth. It is simply unacceptable that you have allowed there to be any equivocation or doubt as to the facts.

"The protection of the public should be the first duty of any government."

Ms Baillie, the MSP for Dumbarton, also rounded on the government.

She said: "This is another SNP broken promise. Communities across Scotland are fed up of being let down by Alex Salmond."

She added: "The SNP cannot foot the bill for their own pledge to employ 1,000 extra police officers.

"This is a very simple issue, the SNP have promised to employ 1,000 more police. Will the number of police rise or not?"

Mr MacAskill promised there would be an announcement on the issue shortly.

He said: "I think you can rest assured that it is going to be good news and I believe it will be uniformly welcomed by everybody."

Mr MacAskill stressed the importance of retaining existing officers and also redeploying policemen and women.

He said: "The problem is we had less officers deployed in our communities. And we need to make sure that the real role of our police officers is to protect, guard and serve our communities, not process, log and then file information."

He continued: "We want to make sure that officers that we recruit and indeed officers that we retain are out in our communities protecting, guarding and serving, not stuck behind desks."

The justice secretary insisted: "We will deliver an additional thousand officers into our communities.

"We will make a more visible police presence in our communities. Not behind desks, filing processing or logging, they will be out patrolling, protecting and guarding. That's what our hard-pressed communities want and that's what we as a government will deliver."


THE views of opposition politicians were echoed by Joe Grant of the Scottish Police Federation.

Mr Grant said: "What we have very clearly in our mind is a promise from government to increase the number of police officers by 1,000. That means by May 2011 police officers, and the public, expect there to be 17,235 police officers in Scotland."

A report by the federation said spending on police in Scotland was "significantly lower" than in the rest of the UK. It said 20 per cent more per head was spent on police in England and 13 per cent more in Wales.

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