The number of police officers in Scotland is at a record high according to figures released today....

Figures show that there were 17,409 police officers in Scotland (as at end March 2010), 1,175 more than there were in March 2007.

This represents an increase of 136 police officers during the past quarter and 361 more officers in the past year. The increase means that the Scottish Government's pledge to deliver 1,000 additional officers continues to be delivered.

The figures also revealed that the number of officers employed in the Lothian and Borders Police force has exceeded 3,000 for the first time.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill welcomed the figures by saying:

"The Scottish Government pledged to deliver a more visible police presence in our communities which is why we committed ourselves to increasing the number of police officers by 1,000 by the end of this Parliament. We are continuing to deliver on that commitment with a record 17,409 police officers on Scotland's streets, making our communities safer places to live and work. Sustaining that achievement demonstrates this Government's commitment to providing a well resourced police service.

"I wish to congratulate our Chief Constables for redeploying officers and delivering more police on our streets. The Scottish Police College is also vital in delivering this record number of trainees during the past year and its excellent work has ensured new police recruits have the skills and training to serve as excellent officers in Scotland's police service."

Labour justice spokesman Richard Baker called for an independent forecast of police numbers, adding: "Kenny MacAskill keeps boasting about police numbers, but, as we have continually warned, it's no good increasing numbers unless those numbers are maintained.

"The SNP have cut support staff by over 1,000, meaning fewer cops on the beat."

Comments last month by Grampian Police Chief Constable Colin McKerracher led to Mr MacAskill making a statement to parliament explaining that funding for extra police was ring fenced.

Up to March 31, 2010, the Scottish Government has provided funding for an extra 801 police officers. This funding will continue in 2010-11 along with funding for the recruitment, training and salaries of a further 201 additional officers to be recruited during this year.

The Scottish Government is providing record levels of funding for police services and the levels of recorded crime are at a near 30-year low.

Police Grant paid directly to Police Authorities from the Scottish Government will increase by 3.1 per cent in 2010-11 after taking into account the Scottish Government taking on responsibility for funding police pensions in April 2010.

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