Calls for more police officers in rural Aberdeenshire communities after rise in violent crime
An MSP has pressed the SNP Government to recruit more police officers in rural Aberdeenshire communities following a rise in violent crime.
Alexander Burnett quizzed justice secretary Humza Yousaf on what is being done to protect officer numbers after new figures showed violent crime in the region has tripled since 2013.
When Police Scotland was created, 110 non-sexual crimes of violence were recorded in Aberdeenshire in 2012/13, rising to 326 in 2019/20. It comes after several police stations in the region, including Kemnay, have closed in recent years.
Mr Burnett also highlighted a deliberate fire at Kemnay and District Rifle Club as an example of the kind of large-scale incidents the over-stretched force are having to deal with.
In a question to Mr Yousaf, he said: “Since 2013, Aberdeenshire has seen violent crime triple while five police stations have closed – Kemnay is one of these which is in my constituency. Just a few days ago, Kemnay and District Rifle Club had their buildings burned to the ground in a deliberate fire. With fewer police officers, and fewer police stations, is the justice secretary going to do anything to protect rural communities?”
In his reply, Mr Yousaf said matters such as police officer numbers were a matter for the North East Division to address.
He said: “What I would say to Alexander Burnett, if there are particular issues he feels need addressed he should take these up operationally with the local divisional commander.”
Mr Burnett later added: “I’m angry at the fact Mr Yousaf has openly passed the buck to the divisional commander. The ignorant response from Mr Yousaf to say officer numbers are a responsibility for the North East Division is disgraceful.
“The recent fire at Kemnay and District Rifle Club highlights the pressure the police in Aberdeenshire are under, having to cover rural areas that are a long distance apart during a time of so much uncertainty.
“This is why our hardworking officers in Aberdeenshire must get the resources they need to tackle crime right across the region. Staff absences from Coronavirus have also occurred which is why it’s even more important that police numbers are increased.”