Special constables numbers down by two thirds since Police Scotland merger

The number of special constables in Scotland has declined from 1,394 in 2014 to 453 in 2021.

Tom Eden
Monday 03 January 2022 00:01
Police Scotland’s special constable numbers have fallen by almost a thousand since the force’s centralisation J(ane Barlow/PA)
Police Scotland’s special constable numbers have fallen by almost a thousand since the force’s centralisation J(ane Barlow/PA)

Special constable numbers are down to less than a third that existed before Police Scotland was centralised, the Liberal Democrats have warned.

Freedom of information requests show that there were 453 special constables in September 2021, almost a thousand fewer than the 1,394 volunteering in 2014.

The part-time, voluntary role assists the regular police force but numbers have dwindled since the centralisation of Police Scotland

Since Scotland’s eight regional police forces were merged into a single force in 2013, the number of special constables has decreased by 67.5%, with the Scottish Lib Dems warning they are a “vanishing species”.

Both the number of special constables sworn in, and those actually deployed, have declined in all but one year since the amalgamation according to the figures.

It’s a shame to see a role with a proud history being allowed to wither away

Liam McArthur MSP

The party’s justice spokesperson, Liam McArthur, said: “Special constables perform a valuable role and enhance the police’s presence in communities across Scotland.

“It’s a shame to see a role with a proud history being allowed to wither away.

“We all know the pressures on police officers and staff, who we expect to step up in our moment of need.

“It is also clear from the most recent staff survey that they are struggling with exhaustion, stress and mental health problems.

“That makes it all the more important therefore to ensure they have the support they need.

“The SNP Government must now repair the damage done by its botched centralisation.

“That includes protecting the future of the special constabulary and giving officers and staff the resources that they need to do their jobs.”

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