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Police letter row

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
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Police letter row

A PLEA for more cash for policing in Dumfries and Galloway should have been sent to both Scottish and UK Governments, a councillor has argued.

The leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council is to write a letter to ministers at Holyrood expressing concern over cuts to emergency services in the region, and demanding more financial support for police and fire services.

This comes after Abbey Councillor Ian Blake, who is chairman of the police, fire and rescue sub-committee, tabled a motion at last week’s full council meeting on underfunding to blue light services.

His motion was passed but SNP Councillor George Jamieson, who represents Annandale South, believed it was politically-motivated to have a dig at his party running the SNP Government.

He said: “I’m not against having more police on the ground. But if we’re going to discuss it, let’s discuss it properly. Not politically.

“All countries in the UK have reduced police spending. Scotland has reduced it by a bigger percentage than the other countries, but they’ve put that money into other things that prevent crime.

“So, we have to be non-political about this because it’s too important to score points on each other.”

Mr Jamieson referred to the UK Government using the Barnett Formula to determine funding allocations to each country in the UK, and then suggested the council should write to both governments on this basis.

Councillor Blake replied: “I still feel we should write to either the Scottish Government or the First Minister.

“The UK Government does not come into this. Policing is a devolved matter and increasing the Barnett Formula, and then trying to specify where it would go, is senseless.”

Councillor Jamieson responded: “It’s ridiculous to say that Westminster has nothing to do with this.

“The Barnett Formula is passed to the Scottish Government. It’s a finite amount of money and the Scottish Government has to share it out between all the services.

“All police forces in the UK have had reduced funding, so it’s ridiculous to say that if you write to the Scottish (First) Minister, that’s going to make any difference.”

It was revealed last month that Dumfries and Galloway has seen the largest reduction rate in officer numbers among Scotland’s policing divisions.

Analysis by the justice and social affairs publication 1919 Magazine claims that three years ago Dumfries and Galloway had 406 full-time equivalent officers.

However, at the end of June this year that number had fallen to 349 – although last month a council report said that number was actually around 320 officers.

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