Police Scotland will have the “right mix” of officers and specialist staff, the Justice Secretary pledged, as new figures showed a slight fall in numbers.
Scottish Government statistics showed there were the equivalent of 17,245 full-time officers employed in the force on September 30 2016, a fall of 16 from the same date in 2015.
The SNP dropped its pledge to maintain 1,000 extra officers earlier this year – but the figures showed the number of police was 1,011 higher than when the party came power to power in 2007.
Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: “Scotland’s police officers and staff work incredibly hard to serve our communities and public confidence remains high, with most people feeling police do a good or excellent job in their area.
“Crime is at a 42-year-low, supported by the fact levels of police officers in Scotland’s communities remain historically high and well in excess of those in 2007.
“Criminal activity is evolving, becoming more complex and often technology-focused, while our police and other public services are involved in a range of activities to keep people safe from harm.
“We will continue to support Police Scotland and partner agencies to meet these demands, ensuring they have the right mix of officers and specialist staff to help keep our communities safe.”
He said that as a result of the formation of Police Scotland, “local policing now has better access to specialist resources including major investigation teams, air support and the rape investigation unit, regardless of where in the country it’s needed”.
Mr Matheson continued: “We recently published the new strategic policing priorities, compiled after extensive public consultation, which have localism, prevention and accountability at their heart.
“From there, Police Scotland are now working with the Scottish Police Authority on a long-term strategy for a flexible, modern and sustainable police service.
“We have also committed to protecting the police resource budget in real terms in every year of this Parliament, delivering a boost of £100 million by 2021, and have provided an additional £55 million of reform funding in 2016/17.”