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Spike in vandalism prompts calls for increased police numbers in Ayrshire

MSP Sharon Dowey is calling on the SNP government to increase funding for front-line police officers.

Her appeal comes after Scottish Government figures show fire raising and vandalism in South Ayrshire have increased by 42 per cent since 2019.

And incidents of vandalism alone have risen by a third (33 per cent) in the same period.

In 2019, only two fires were set across South Ayrshire, with that number increasing to eight in 2021.

Ms Dowey has previously highlighted that Ayrshire police have lost 52 officers since the SNP merged forces in 2013.

The Scottish Conservative List MSP for South Scotland feels Ayrshire needs more ‘bobbies on the beat’ to combat the surge in vandalism.

She said: “Our police officers have done a great job during the pandemic but they cannot be anywhere at once.

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“We now average over 70 incidents of vandalism a year in South Ayrshire and that just can’t go on.

“Those responsible need to take a good look in the mirror as it’s never acceptable to trash your local community.

MSP Sharon Dowey
MSP Sharon Dowey

“That said, there’s a clear link between the SNP cutting officer numbers and these new figures and that’s only going to get worse unless the Scottish Government do what is right and start delivering fair funding for our police forces.”

She added: “The Scottish Conservatives have proposed a new Local Policing Act which would mean more bobbies on the beat and a more visible police presence in our streets. It’s time for the SNP to start listening to communities and taking crime seriously.”

A spokesperson for the Justice Secretary Keith Brown said: “This is another classic example of rank hypocrisy from the Tories as the UK Government slashed police officers by 20,000 over the last decade.

“Police Scotland recruitment continues to be strong with officer numbers in Scotland significantly above the level inherited in 2007.

“Despite UK Government austerity we have increased police funding year-on-year since 2016-17 and have invested more than £10bn in policing since the creation of Police Scotland in 2013.

“Officers numbers are also favourable relative to elsewhere in the UK with around 32 officers per 10,000 population in Scotland compared to around 23 officers per 10,000 population in England and Wales.

“Local police divisions have a core complement of officers who are always dedicated to community and response policing, but one of the benefits of Scotland’s national police service is that it allows local divisions to access national and regional resources depending on demand.”

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