Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP today warned the police’s Special Constabulary could “vanish altogether” after he revealed that their numbers have nosedived since the SNP’s police centralisation.
Scottish Liberal Democrat freedom of information requests have revealed there were 1,394 in 2013/14, but this has fallen to just 505 in 2018/19.
Special constables operate on a part-time and voluntary basis, exercising similar powers to police officers and helping boost the police’s presence in the community.
The conditions for their receiving a recognition award changed in 2016/17, meaning that a special constable has to be in post for two years before they can qualify for an award of £1,100.
Mr McArthur commented:
“We are told that the history of the Special Constabulary is “long and impressive”, but at the current trajectory it will soon vanish altogether.
“The national force has lost almost 200 special constables a year on average, but trained just 50 last year.
“We’re asking more than ever of the police, but this hasn’t been matched in the resources they are given to deal with issues such as mental health. Now we know backup is being eroded too. Special constables are a valuable community asset and boost the police’s presence in communities, relieving some of the pressure.
“We know that officers don’t feel well supported. The police’s own staff survey is three years late. However, we recently disclosed brand new expert research showing almost half of all officers suffer from exhaustion, and 57% reported that a lack of resources caused them high degrees of stress.
“The SNP Government needs to repair the damage done by its botched centralisation. The national force must now get on with the staff survey, protect the future of the Special Constabulary and give officers the resources they need to do their jobs.”