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Policing gets much-needed boost to ranks

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Policing gets much-needed boost to ranks

FOURTEEN new police officers have recently joined the force in Dumfries and Galloway – just six months after a dozen others were recruited.

This additional 26 new police officers is badly needed after it was revealed in late 2023 that this region has seen the largest reduction rate in officer numbers among Scotland’s policing divisions.

Nearly four years ago Dumfries and Galloway had 406 full-time equivalent officers, however that number had fallen to 349 this time last year.

With Police Scotland making unpopular cuts, particularly in such a large region, there were serious concerns raised about the level of service and public safety.

Around six months ago, elected members even instructed council leader Gail Macgregor to send a letter to the Scottish and UK governments pleading for more cash for policing.

Policing numbers were raised again at Dumfries and Galloway Council’s police, fire and rescue sub-committee last week after police chiefs tabled a report confirming a new intake of recruits.

Police Superintendent Jim McMillan said: “In terms of the recruits, this is 14 new ones that are coming in.

“I actually sit on the rural and remote governance board to get more recruitment – to make sure that Dumfries and Galloway are getting a good number of people.

“So, my responsibility within Dumfries and Galloway is about personnel and recruitment.

“It’s actually within my best interests to get as many officers as I possibly can into the division.”

When the previous 12 new recruits were announced, the region’s top cop confirmed that community police officers would be back on the beat.

Chief superintendent John Cairns explained that these were a dozen probationary constables, and that he would make good on a previous promise to councillors that “community police officers will return”.

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