SEVEN Police Scotland staff within West Dunbartonshire were made redundant, dismissed or took voluntary exit over the past four years at a cost to the public of more than £210,000.

One MSP described the revelations as showing “the thin blue line getting even thinner”and said “money that could have been used to recruit more officers is being spent on redundancy”.

In a special investigation by the Post, we can exclusively reveal that £213,637 was paid out to just seven police officers with the leaving reason of voluntary redundancy and voluntary early retirement between November 2013 and 2017.

The figures were revealed following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the newspaper to Police Scotland.

The money was dished out to the West Dunbartonshire cops as part of their voluntary exit payments, redundancy pay, severance payments, lump sums, payments in lieu of notice, compensation awards and pension payments.

Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie, of Scottish Labour, said: “These figures show that the thin blue line is getting even thinner in West Dunbartonshire and money that could have been used to recruit more police officers is being spent on redundancy.

“Local police officers and civilian staff do a fantastic job in difficult circumstances to keep our local communities safe.

“Across Scotland, civilian staff have been cut by over 2,000 since 2010. Many of these jobs end up getting backfilled by police officers, taking more police off our streets to fill in paperwork.”

The highest single payment to any officer during that four year period was £66,989.

None of the officers from the West Dunbartonshire area were asked to sign confidentiality or “gagging” clauses as part of the compromise agreements when they left.

West Scotland MSP Maurice Corry, of the Conservatives, said: “In the last few weeks the Scottish Conservatives have been pressing the SNP government and the top brass of Police Scotland for more openness and transparency so this is in line with that work.

“Taxpayers will of course always be rightly concerned that their money is being put to good use.

“It is vital Police Scotland keep a watchful eye on finances when frontline officers are complaining about lack of equipment.

“Myself and the Scottish Conservatives will continue to campaign for information to be put in the public domain.”

However, one MSP was sceptical about the Post’s findings, despite welcoming the investigation.

Clydebank MSP Gil Paterson, of the SNP, added: “I cannot judge these figures because I do not know the individual circumstances of each settlement.

“What if one of these officers has deeply suffered from a traumatic experience, like a horrific murder or another disturbing incident?

“We just do not know enough right now to comment one way or another. In fact, it might, because of what has happened to the individual, be an underpayment.”

He added: “I very much welcome the Post’s investigation. It is important that the press hold authorities to account, and FOI’s like this allow the public a look into areas they may have been left in the dark about.

“In West Dunbartonshire, we’re blessed with amazing local newspapers which do a stellar job in holding politicians, authorities and the council to account.

“I would not ever change that and I commend the work of the Clydebank Post.”