Glasgow Labour MSP Anne McTaggart has called on the Scottish Government to commit to a permanent increase in the number of police actively patrolling city streets. Her calls come following a horrific series of rapes and sex attacks across Glasgow in the past few weeks, and after the ‘These Streets are Made for Walking’ midnight march in which thousands of people marched in Glasgow’s Southside near where two of the recent attacks took place.
These attacks have caused widespread alarm and disgust across the city and prompted two brave local women, Ashley Crossan and Amanda Johnston, to organise a march in Govanhill against the attacks.
While questioning the Cabinet Secretary for Justice Kenny MacAskill on the matter at the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday (10th May), Ms McTaggart asked what additional measures had been put in place by Police Scotland to apprehend those responsible for the recent crimes, and whether greater numbers of police officers will be on patrol in Glasgow until those responsible are caught.
Ms McTaggart said “On Tuesday, I took part in the midnight march that was organised by two astonishingly brave young women residents, marching in solidarity in Govanhill against the series of rapes and sex attacks that have recently taken place across Glasgow. I joined thousands of Glaswegians who want to reclaim their streets from sex offenders and who object to the idea that they should have to stay indoors for their own safety.
I welcome the news that there has been an increase in the number of foot and car patrols in Govanhill and in others areas where incidents have taken place. However, I remain concerned that the number of police patrolling our streets has been negatively affected by the backfilling of administration and clerical roles following the introduction of Police Scotland. We know that under the SNP Government there are at least 1,727 fewer police support staff than there were in March 2010. In addition, current statistics do not take account of the increase in the number of backroom officers and the Government does not make information available on the number of officers who are patrolling our streets.
I was disappointed that Sandra White MSP chose to attack me for highlighting this reduction in police support staff. As a fellow Glasgow MSP I would have hoped that she would understand that my concerns are sincere and that I only have the safety and wellbeing of my constituents at heart when I speak on an issue as serious as this. It is the duty of opposition MSPs to scrutinise the Government and hold them to account on their actions, and I will not back away from doing this especially when people’s safety is at risk.
I recently met with Chief Superintendent Andrew Bates of Police Scotland to discuss this issue and I trust that Police Scotland are doing everything in their power to protect the public. I would also urge the Scottish Government to commit to a permanent increase in the number of officers actively patrolling our streets after the perpetrators of these vicious crimes have been caught.”
You can read Anne’s questions and the Justice Minister’s response here.
Yuo can watch the question and response below: