A POLITICIAN has demanded the Scottish Government explains how public safety will be affected locally following a drop in the number of police officers.

Figures released this week show the number of officers in Scotland has fallen to the lowest level in almost a decade.

There were 17,147 full-time equivalent officers in the country at the end of September, according to Scottish Government data. That’s 103 less than at the end of September last year.

The last time the number of officers was lower was in the first three months of 2009, when the total was 17,048.

Neil Bibby, who represents Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire as part of his West Scotland remit, has urged the Scottish Government to explain how the two areas will be affected by the change.

He said: “There are now nearly 350 fewer police officers in Scotland under the SNP. The loss of so many officers will rightly concern people in our local community.

“Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf must urgently explain how many officers will be cut and what the impact will be on public safety here in Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire. 

“You can’t keep people safe on the cheap and the police need adequate resources to do their job properly.”

The Scottish Government said officer numbers ‘remain significantly’ above the level in 2007, having risen by 913 since March that year.

Deputy Chief Constable Will Kerr said: “Police Scotland is committed to the continued development of a flexible workforce that’s capable of responding to the evolving criminal threats to our communities.

“Having a core number of officers will remain at the heart of policing in Scotland to ensure we can protect people with different needs.”