Ross attacks lack of rural consideration in police strategy

RURAL REGIONS IN Scotland such as those in Moray should not be neglected in a new 10-year strategy for policing published earlier this week.

That is the view being expressed by regional MSP Douglas Ross, who is also the shadow justice secretary at the Scottish Parliament.

Mr Ross has accused the Justice Secretary, Michael Matheson, of threatening to neglect rural areas following the publication of the strategy – ‘Serving a Changing Scotland’ – in that, the single force failed to mention countryside communities once.

The MSP tackled Mr Matheson over the strategy, pointing to the population of Scotland’s rural communities that is growing at a faster rate than anywhere else north of the border.

He said: “As an MSP for the Highlands and Islands I know how important policing is to our local communities.

“It’s all very well coming up with a plan for Scotland’s cities when it comes to policing but, as ever with the SNP, its obsession with the central belt leaves rural communities neglected.

“The document produced by Police Scotland doesn’t mention our rural communities once, and that’s utterly unacceptable. Crime in these parts of the country can differ significantly to offending in towns and cities, and it’s regrettable the single force isn’t acknowledging this.

“And when he had a chance in the Scottish Parliament to set the record straight, Michael Matheson failed to do so.”

Mr Ross also highlighted the consultation’s failure to mention the predicted 400 officers that will be lost to the force over the next few years, saying: “It’s strange that Police Scotland were able to release these figures at a press conference for the strategy launch but not include them in the document itself.

“It’s vital that individuals and communities feed into this strategy but by omitting from their plan the number of officers they predict will be lost, Police Scotland have not been open and upfront with the communities they want to hear from.”