Highlands & Islands

'Good response' to Northern Constabulary recruits drive

Police recruits
Image caption Northern Constabulary is looking to recruit 24 new officers

Applications to become an officer at a Scottish force are more than double the number of posts available.

Northern Constabulary is looking to recruit 24 new staff after the number of officers leaving turned out to be higher than it had expected.

The force, which is responsible for the Highlands, Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland, has committed to having 800 officers this year.

It has received 50 completed applications so far.

Some applicants have been asked to sit the standard entrance test, which is the first stage in the process to becoming a police officer.

The exact number of requests for application forms is not known because the document can be downloaded from the force's website.

Recruitment ends on 18 June.

Record levels

Last month, the force said it had transferred £1.6m to frontline policing services from "back office" departments so it could increase officer numbers.

Chief Constable Ian Latimer has previously said the recruitment drive was "an excellent opportunity" as it may not be repeated for some time.

The number of police officers patrolling communities in the Highlands and Islands reached record levels last year.

The recruitment of new constables saw the number of officers rise from 787 in March 2008 to 801 by last August.

Last week, there were claims civil servants were attempting to "call the shots" on police funding.

Grampian Police Chief Constable Colin McKerracher said he was told cash would be withheld if forces missed targets to maintain increased levels of officers.

The government said it was committed to boosting police numbers by 1,000 and provided specific funding to do so.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill is to address MSPs on the issue.

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