NEWLY released figures from Police Scotland, presented through the Scottish Government, have shed light on the challenges faced by policing in the North East region. The data for the third quarter of 2023 reveals a decrease of 59 officers in September compared to the same month last year, raising concerns about the impact of staffing cuts on community safety.
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During the third quarter of 2023, the North East division, which includes Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, and Moray, experienced a reduction in its police force from 1,107 officers in September 2022 to 1,048 officers in September 2023. These figures encompass community policing, response policing, and road policing teams, indicating a decrease in overall police presence in the region.
In addition to the reduction in local officers, specialist resources that play a crucial role in addressing serious crimes, such as the national rape investigation unit, human trafficking unit, and air support, have also seen a decline, dropping from 1751 to 1730. These resources are vital for effectively combating complex criminal activities in the area.
Furthermore, the North East was selected for a pilot project that aims to reevaluate the investigation of minor crimes, reflecting a broader shift in law enforcement priorities.
Local Concerns and Responses:
Residents in the affected areas have expressed their worries about safety following incidents where police were unable to address their concerns adequately. One such incident in Kintore, where a resident’s property was vandalised, highlights the challenges faced by communities and law enforcement in addressing local issues promptly.
Scottish Conservative MSP for Aberdeenshire West, Alexander Burnett, voiced concerns about the impact of these cuts on police officers. He emphasised the pressure officers are under, especially when dealing with the additional challenges brought about by the strain on NHS and ambulance services.
Burnett also criticised the situation, stating, “The SNP created Police Scotland a decade ago and are entirely responsible for its long catalogue of challenges and the gradual reduction in local policing. The concerns raised by our communities reflect a genuine need for adequate funding and support for our police force.”
The newly released figures underscore the need for a comprehensive discussion on funding and resources for policing in the North East. The challenges faced by the region’s police force highlight the delicate balance between resource allocation and community safety, prompting important conversations about the way forward. As stakeholders continue to engage in dialogue, finding solutions to maintain effective policing while addressing budget constraints remains a shared priority for all involved parties.