CONCERNS have been raised over a drop in the number of police officers employed in West Dunbartonshire.

Jackie Baillie MSP expressed her concern after it emerged there are 40 fewer officers in Argyll and West Dunbartonshire than there were seven years ago.

A Freedom of Information request shows the number has declined from 545 in 2016/17 to just 505 last year.

Meanwhile, the number of civilian staff has remained broadly the same.

Recently, outgoing Chief Constable Iain Livingstone raised concerns over Police Scotland’s budget under the SNP government.

He sent a letter to all local police commanders earlier this year, detailing the severity of the funding situation.

Mr Livingstone said that, under current levels of staffing, it was not possible to continue to provide the existing service.

Now there are fears that police numbers could fall even further.

Ms Baillie said: “These stark figures reveal just how ineffectual the SNP’s alleged commitment to policing is. 

"The outgoing chief constable has already taken aim at the government for underfunding and these local statistics show how this is playing out in communities across West Dunbartonshire.

“Police numbers have fallen over the last seven years and could be set to decrease even further."

Ms Baillie added: “It is not acceptable to reduce police numbers so significantly and expect our communities to remain as safe as they were with more officers.

"The SNP must make police workforce planning a priority and ensure communities are not at risk of greater harm due to their inaction.”

The Scottish Government has been approached for comment.