MacAskill – funding was for extra police alone

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Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill today gave a statement to the Holyrood chamber after reports….

Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill today gave a statement to the Holyrood chamber after reports in The Herald newspaper claimed some Chief Constables were unhappy with the behaviour of civil servants at recent meetings.

In particular, Mr MacAskill was addressing concerns over the awarding of funds for the recruitment of extra police officers after it was claimed that civil servants had indicated such funds may be withheld should officer numbers decline.

In his statement the cabinet secretary explained that, in accordance with agreements, any such funding from the Scottish government was for recruitment alone and could not be used for other areas.  Mr MacAskill went on to clarify the detail of the recruitment agreement which was that recruitment numbers would be as follows:

  • 150 officers recruited in 2007/08
  • 462 officers recruited in 2008/09
  • 189 officers recruited in 2009/10
  • 201 officers recruited in 2010/11

The SNP had promised an extra 1000 police officers on Scotland’s streets as part of their 2007 election manifesto.  Mr MacAskill pointed out that the commitment had already been met by December 2009 when figures indicated that officer numbers had increased by 1039.

Mr MacAskill also claimed that police funding under the SNP was 20% more than under Labour.

Labour’s Shadow Justice spokesman Richard Baker described meetings involving Mr MacAskill, Chief Constables and civil servants as “infamous” and suggested the SNP had been caught red handed.  Mr Baker accepted that police numbers had indeed increased by 1000 but claimed that only when this current term of office had ended could we really determine whether a promise had been kept or not.

Mr MacAskill countered that Labour were in no position to criticise, given that their own manifesto offered no extra officers.  The SNP minister also drew attention to the £500 million cuts levied by the Labour government whilst in office at Westminster.