“Swift action” is needed to tackle a sharp fall in the number of special constables in the Highlands, a regional MSP has warned.
The number has fallen by more than a third since 2013 according to new figures released by Police Scotland.
The figures from a freedom of information request show that since 2013, some 45 officers have been lost, with numbers down from 123 in 2013 to 78 in 2018 – a fall of 35 per cent.
On a national level the figures show the number of Special Constables has more than halved in Scotland, falling from 1387 officers in 2013 to 610 in 2018.
Commenting on the figures, Edward Mountain, Scottish Conservative MSP for the Highlands and Islands said: ‘It is clear from these statistics that the Scottish Government has presided over a steep decline in the number of Special Constables in the Highlands and across Scotland.
“This is very concerning news as Special Constables play a vital role in deterring crime with the policing of our streets and strengthening that link between communities and police forces.
“The Scottish government must now take swift action to reverse this recruitment crisis and ensure that policing capability in Scotland is in no way compromised.”