The Scottish Govt today issued a press release on police recruitment. On the face of it, things seem to be on target for achieving the 1000 extra police officers that the SNP promised as an election commitment, although it should be noted that this was another commitment that was going to be dumped by the SNP until they were forced to honour it by the Tories. However, the letter below from Tory Justice Spokesman Bill Aitken to Kenny MacAskill sheds a different light on the matter.
Dear Cabinet Secretary,
The Scottish Government gave an undertaking to use £10million in 2008/9 and £13million in 2009/10 to fund the recruitment of 1000 additional police officers by 2011.
That means by 2011 we should have a minimum of 17,261 police officers. This funding and these additional officers were over and above the baseline budget to maintain police numbers at the 2007 level of 16,261.
In a letter to Annabel Goldie dated 22nd September 2008, Alex Salmond said “We are committed to recruiting 1000 additional police officers during the lifetime of this Parliament”. No ifs, no buts, no maybes.
Can you please explain why this unequivocal commitment will not result in overall police numbers increasing by 1000?The additional funding secured by the Scottish Conservatives should have meant at least 1000 more officers in Scotland. Indeed, I refer you to the quote from John Swinney on 6th February 2008, when he said: “Let me be clear: the additional money that the amended budget will provide means that we will not only deliver 1,000 more police officers on our streets and in our communities but go substantially beyond that”.
The public deserve clear answers because the SNP is gaining an unenviable reputation for breaking far too many promises and pledges. That in itself is bad for politics, but there can be no room for such equivocation when it comes to the first duty of government – protection of the public.
Bill Aitken MSP
Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Justice