'Record high' for Scottish police officer numbers

Police jackets Ministers said they had maintained their promise to keep up police officer numbers

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The number of police officers in Scotland has reached a record high, according to official figures.

Scotland has the equivalent of 17,454 full-time officers at the end of September, 81 more than in June and 1,220 more than in March 2007.

Ministers said the figures showed the SNP's pledge on maintaining police officer numbers was being maintained.

Scotland's eight police forces are being merged into a national force to save cash but keep frontline services.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said of the government-published statistics: "We have kept our commitment to ensure there are 1,000 extra officers in communities across Scotland and we will continue to protect frontline policing.

"This is in direct contrast to UK government plans which will see the loss of an estimated 16,000 policing posts in England and Wales."

He added: "This will not happen in the Police Service of Scotland.

"Our plans for reform will maintain the visible police presence and our excellent policing record that Scotland currently enjoys for generations to come."

The recently-appointed head of the new national police force, Stephen House, has previously suggested as many as 3,000 support staff could be lost in the merger - sparking opposition concerns that serving officers will be required to undertake back office jobs.

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