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Last Updated: Monday, 12 November 2007, 14:44 GMT
Funds to recruit 500 new officers
Police
The issue of the number of extra police has provoked criticism
Scottish police forces will receive an extra 54m to recruit 500 officers and free up others to work on the beat, the Scottish Government has said.

The SNP administration was criticised by opposition parties, who claimed the deal fell short of a manifesto pledge for "1,000 more police".

Scotland's eight police forces will also be set efficiency targets.

Labour branded the plans a "betrayal", while the Tories and Liberal Democrats described the plans as a "sham".

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said the funding would be in addition to increases in overall police spending.

The government stressed that its target was to have 1,000 additional police officers "in communities" and to meet this, outlined plans for at least 150 new officers in the current financial year and the rest over the course of the current parliament.

This is nothing less than a betrayal of people across Scotland
Pauline McNeill
Labour justice spokeswoman

While meeting officers in Alloa, Mr MacAskill said: "Police officers are highly trained and highly skilled.

"It's vital that their focus is on building safer and stronger communities.

"What matters to the public is the ability of the police to respond to local problems and the key to the police service's ability to respond is not its overall size, but its capacity - the right people with the right skills in the right place at the right time."

But Labour justice spokeswoman Pauline McNeill claimed the announcement was another SNP broken promise.

"This is nothing less than a betrayal of people across Scotland," she said.

"Before the election the SNP said very clearly that they would recruit an extra 1000 police officers. Now less than six months into government they admit they will only hire half of this."

New technology

Bill Aitken, the Tory justice spokesman, added: "This is a sham.

"Today we are told that, after initially promising 1,000 additional police officers, and then backtracking to '1,000 more police in our communities', we are in fact only getting 500 extra officers and the SNP cannot guarantee any of them will be out on the beat.

"Today they have finally admitted this key manifesto pledge was nothing more than a con."

Liberal Democrat leader Nicol Stephen said: "The Nationalist government has wriggled and squirmed but it still refuses to say how many police officers there will be in Scotland in three years' time.

"It is dodgy spin and shifty auditing."

With 2,300 officers eligible to retire over the next four years after 30 years' service, ministers also want to see the retention of more skilled and experienced officers.

The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos) has been asked to review the feasibility of centralising recruitment and annual efficiency targets aim to give police boards more to invest in front-line policing.

Boards are also set to agree, with chief constables, levels of visible policing that local communities have a right to expect and new technology will be used to modernise the way police officers operate.

Colin McKerracher, chief constable of Grampian Police and president of the Acpos in Scotland, welcomed the announcement.

VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Kenny MacAskill announces the funding



SEE ALSO
'No target' for police recruiting
04 Nov 07 |  Scotland
Police call over numbers promise
24 Oct 07 |  Scotland
Row over 'broken' police pledge
07 Oct 07 |  Scotland
Call to increase police spending
17 Sep 07 |  Scotland
Minister plans 1,000 more police
06 Jun 07 |  Scotland
Party police plans branded a joke
24 Apr 07 |  Scotland
Police chief warns of job losses
15 Feb 07 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West

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