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Scottish special numbers plummet
13 Mar 2018

The number of special constables in Scotland has more than halved in just five years.

Figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives show over 750 specials have been lost since 2013 as figures dropped from 1,387 to just 610.

The recruitment rate has seen a similar decline, with just 85 new special constables brought in last year compared with 251 five years ago.

English and Welsh forces currently have around 12,600 special constables, a drop of 34 per cent over roughly the same period.

Scottish Conservative community safety spokesman Maurice Corry said: “The SNP has presided over years of declining numbers of special constables without addressing it in any meaningful way.

“I am extremely concerned about this massive drop in numbers of special constables given their importance the effect this is having on Police Scotland capability.

“The SNP must explain why it has let this happen, if it is by design or just sheer incompetence. The SNP must address this decline quickly and ensure that the policing capability in Scotland is not compromised in any way.”

Although special numbers have fallen 56 per cent since 2013 the number of regular officers has remained relatively stable.

Police Scotland employed 17,256 full-time equivalent officers in December 2017, down from 17,496.

Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur called on the Scottish government to “revisit recruitment and retention plans to ensure the force is sufficiently staffed.”

A Scottish government spokesperson said: “Recruitment of special constables is an operational matter for the chief constable.

“The policing 2026 Strategy aims to ensure the right skills mix to meet future demands, with officers freed up from support work to increase the number available for frontline policing.”


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