Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has received assurances from the chief constable of Police Scotland, Philip Gormley that the size of the force in Orkney will be maintained.
During a meeting earlier today, Mr Gormley assured Mr McArthur that he recognises the specific challenges with recruiting and retaining officers in the islands and that he will work with the local Area Commander, Gordon Deans and his team to identify possible solutions.
Having raised concerns over vacancies in the local police force with Mr Gormley’s predecessor, Mr McArthur wrote to the chief constable ahead of his visit to Orkney this week, again highlighting the issue.
Speaking after the meeting, Orkney’s MSP said:
“It is good to hear that the chief constable remains committed to maintaining the size of the local police force in Orkney. He accepts, however, that there are specific challenges in recruiting to posts in the islands and also in retaining officers.
“I am well aware that there are no easy solutions, but I am encouraged that Mr Gormley wants to work with the local Area Commander to address this issue.
“As I have said previously, officers moving to the islands should not be left out of pocket, and this would suggest that financial support may be necessary to cover the costs of relocating. In addition, we discussed whether or not additional ‘weight’ could be given to a posting in Orkney or the other island forces to help enhance future career progression.
“At the same time, it would be good to see more officers recruited from within Orkney. While there are no guarantees, it is likelythat those with a connection to the islands are more likely to want to settle here. This could help provide greater continuity, as well as reinforce the sense of community policing, which has been a hallmark of the approach taken locally over the years.
“I will continue to monitor this issue closely over the coming months. Meantime, I am grateful to Mr Gormley for his willingness to acknowledge the concerns and work constructively to address them”.