Will the minister comment on a problem that the Scottish Police Federation in Edinburgh has raised with me? I refer to gapping, which involves officers being recruited and included in the figures for a year, but being on deferred or delayed entry. Such officers may not come in for several months—sometimes more than six months. Clearly, that practice would make the figures false. Can the minister advise us whether the officers to whom she referred have started their training course and are serving officers, or whether they are still gaps?
I will double check with Lothian and Borders police the situation of the 104 officers I identified and I will write to Mr MacAskill if it turns out that further information is required. As Mr MacAskill knows, the important issue is that we face a retirement bulge within the next couple of years. For that reason, police forces have been given additional resources to enable them to recruit the necessary officers in advance, to get them through the appropriate training at the Scottish Police College and to get them into forces. Lothian and Borders police also has a significant number of additional support staff.