Graham Simpson has slammed the SNP Government for overseeing cuts to the police force.
The Central Scotland Conservative MSP’s criticism comes after new statistics showed that officer numbers are at their lowest since March 2009.
Since the SNP’s merging of police forces into Police Scotland in 2013, there has been a reduction of 643 local police officers including 82 in Lanarkshire.
The Lanarkshire Live app is available to download now.
Get all the news from your area – as well as features, entertainment, sport and the latest on Lanarkshire’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic – straight to your fingertips, 24/7.
The free download features the latest breaking news and exclusive stories, and allows you to customize your page to the sections that matter most to you.
Head to the App Store and never miss a beat in Lanarkshire – iOS – Android
Mr Simpson said frontline officers in Lanarkshire are being treated “appallingly” by the Scottish Government.
He is now backing Scottish Conservative plans for a Local Policing Act to restore local patrols and ensure communities can have a say in local policing decisions.
he told Lanarkshire Live: “Our hardworking police officers work tirelessly to protect our communities.
“But they are doing so with one hand tied behind their back thanks to the SNP Government.
“Ministers simply aren’t giving our police the resources they need. It is clear Police Scotland simply hasn’t worked for communities here in Lanarkshire with the loss of so many local officers since 2013.
“This is putting the safety of people in our communities at risk which is completely unacceptable.”
The latest statistics show that, as of December 31, there were 17,117 full-time equivalent police officers across Scotland – the lowest figure recorded since March 2009.
‘Divisional’ officers are the core local resource who patrol streets and respond to calls, of which there were 1465 in 2013 – now Lanarkshire has just 1383.
The MSP added: “We need to properly support local policing efforts, which is why I back Scottish Conservative proposals for a Local Policing Act to guarantee police will have the budgets they need and that local people are the heart of decision-making.”
Responding to the criticism, EK SNP MSP Collette Stevenson hit back saying it is “perfectly normal” for police officer numbers to fluctuate.
She said: “The training of new officers has been affected by the ongoing impact of coronavirus restrictions.
“I understand the most recent figures were also impacted by basing UK officers at the Police Scotland Training College in Jackton.
“Perhaps Mr Simpson is unaware that more than £10bn has been invested in Police Scotland since its creation in 2013, and the force have had increased funding year-on-year since 2016/17 to ensure they have the resources they need to keep our communities safe.
“I am sure Mr Simpson will join me in welcoming the next intake of approximately 300 officers who are due to commence their training in April.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said officer numbers here are “favourable” relative to elsewhere in the UK, with around 32 officers per 10,000 population in Scotland compared to around 23 officers per 10,000 population in England and Wales.
*Don’t miss the latest headlines from around Lanarkshire. Sign up to our newsletters here .
And did you know Lanarkshire Live is on Facebook? why not head to our page and give us a like and share.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.