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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 February 2007, 12:43 GMT
Police chief warns of job losses
Police officers in Glasgow
The thin blue line could be facing cuts in 2008
The head of Scotland's largest police force has warned of job cuts amid a Scottish Executive spending review.

Strathclyde Chief Constable Willie Rae said the effort to retain core policing would be quite challenging.

He told councillors it may be necessary to reduce police numbers after a spending revue, due in the autumn.

Mr Rae revealed in another report the number of murders between April and December 2006 increased by 19 violent deaths to 60, compared with 2005.

This was 10 deaths above the five-year average.

The chief is not looking for more money
Strathclyde Police spokeswoman

The official reports were presented to councillors on Strathclyde Joint Police Board.

Latest crime figures showed violent crime increased by 3.3% between April and December, 2006.

Overall recorded crime increased by 2.1%, or 2,947 incidents.

Strathclyde Police currently has 7,559 officers and had been able to recruit 300 of them through recent efficiencies, said Mr Rae.

He said the core number of up to 7,500 officers could be sustained in the coming year but warned there would be no further increases.

'Record numbers'

The force has executive funding of 513.5m for the coming year.

The level of funding beyond March 2008 is under review.

Mr Rae said: "Members should be aware that when clarification of the settlement is received, an appropriate strategy will be developed which will reflect, if necessary, a gradational approach to reducing police numbers."

The Scottish Executive said it had provided record levels of funding for the police in Scotland and the number of officers in Strathclyde had increased by 367 in three years.

A spokesman said: "The Chief Constable of Strathclyde Police is responsible for making decisions on the best use of the funding available to him, including the recruitment and deployment of police officers."

A spokeswoman for Strathclyde Police said: "The chief is not looking for more money.

"He is giving prior warning to a 'potential' situation that may arise in future.

"Lots of factors affect levels of crime not just the number of officers on the street. The fact is that - looking at the long-term trends - crime levels are down."

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