Police Recruitment

Question Time — Scottish Executive — General Questions – in the Scottish Parliament at 11:40 am on 4th December 2008.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Paul Martin Paul Martin Labour 11:40 am, 4th December 2008

To ask the Scottish Executive, further to its news release of 12 November 2007 that stated that an extra 150 police officers would be recruited by the end of the financial year, whether those were recruits whom chief constables were already planning to recruit. (S3O-5085)

Photo of Kenny MacAskill Kenny MacAskill Scottish National Party

We promised that in 2007-08 we would recruit 150 additional officers, and that is what we delivered. This year, we are committed to recruiting 450 additional officers and, already, 440 of those officers have been recruited, with the remainder to follow.

Forces will be recruiting more than 1,600 officers this year—an all-time record. We will also recruit a further 200 officers in each of the subsequent two years.

We are well on our way to recruiting 1,000 additional police officers, as we promised to do in our manifesto. As I have said before, all of those officers are over and above recruitment that was already planned by forces.

We inherited the lowest police recruitment since devolution, but we have tackled that head on. As I announced on Tuesday, with 16,526 full-time equivalent police officers, we now have the highest ever recorded number of police officers in Scotland.

Photo of Paul Martin Paul Martin Labour

Last November, the Cabinet Secretary for Justice promised the Parliament that he would recruit an additional 150 police officers by the end of the financial year. I have in my possession a legally obtained document prepared by a senior police officer that confirms that the introduction of the so-called additional 150 police officers was already being planned by chief constables throughout Scotland.

Will the cabinet secretary apologise to the Parliament for failing to meet his commitment to deliver those additional police officers and for his blatant attempt to cook the books?

Photo of Kenny MacAskill Kenny MacAskill Scottish National Party

Absolutely not. If Labour had remained in power, it would not have committed to recruiting even one additional officer. We inherited from Labour the lowest level of recruitment since devolution, despite the fact that we also faced the highest level of retirals due to demographic trends.

We made a commitment to deliver 1,000 additional officers; we delivered 150 in our first year; and we are 10 short of delivering on our commitment for this year—and we will deliver. We have a record number of police officers but, as we have said, the issue is not simply the number of officers but how we deploy them. That is why I pay tribute to the chief constables for ensuring that the officers that we recruit are supplemented by officers who are taken from behind desks and put into our communities to make those communities safer and stronger.

Photo of Sandra White Sandra White Scottish National Party

Will the cabinet secretary join me in congratulating Strathclyde Police, which has increased its numbers by more than 200, ensuring that the citizens of Glasgow and beyond are safe in their communities? Does he agree that rather than being concerned about whether the recruitments are planned or not, the public are just happy to have more police on the streets?

Photo of Kenny MacAskill Kenny MacAskill Scottish National Party

Absolutely. It was a pleasure to meet Chief Constable Stephen House on Tuesday when we were confirming the record number of police officers—I know that he has done a fantastic job in recruiting. I also pay tribute to the Strathclyde Police joint board—and to Councillor Rooney in particular—which has ensured that it brings in recruits, in addition to those that are delivered by the Government, and that it redeploys officers. I concur entirely with my colleague's sentiments.