IT’S the time for employing more police officers in Dumfries and Galloway rather than freezing recruitment, a councillor insisted this week.
North West Dumfries Councillor Graham Bell has spoken out in response to Police Scotland putting a recruitment cap in place.
Having previously raised concerns about vandalism, fire-raising, and other criminal activity in his ward, Cllr Bell argued that Police Scotland have taken the wrong decision.
He said: “I’ve been a member of the council’s police, fire and rescue sub-committee for a number of years, and have raised concerns about community policing in Dumfries and Galloway before.
“We’ve faced numerous cutbacks and I’m deeply concerned we don’t have enough officers on the beat. The public want to see more officers within their estates.
“I also feel we need to be recruiting more police officers due to rising crime levels, especially in my ward of North West Dumfries.”
Unison has also condemned the decision to freeze staff recruitment and say that Police Scotland are choosing to reduce police staff numbers even though there are already not enough staff to meet demand.
Spokesman David Malcolm said: “Police Scotland rely on staff to do more and more overtime to keep the service running. They used 1.3 million hours of overtime in the last financial year.
“Staff already struggle to get their breaks and book annual leave, and they regularly work on understaffed shifts.
“There is quite simply more work than staff to do it, and something needs to give.”
Capping recruitment is a step in the opposite direction in this region as Police Scotland’s recruitment team held community information events earlier this year in Dumfries and Stranraer to generate interest in policing roles.
In March, members of the public were invited to the Dumfries and Galloway Divisional headquarters, and also Stranraer Police Office, to learn more about the application process for joining the force.
Police Scotland’s strategic oversight board took the recent decision to pause police staff recruitment from this week and this will remain in place until financial forecasts predict a balanced budget.