SCOTTISH Tories have questioned police priorities after The Herald revealed inflation-busting pay rises for the country's six assistant chief constables.

As reported yesterday, they will collect £115,000 a year, up from annual salaries of between £91,000 and £107,000, but will lose their bonuses.

Government and police sources insist the rise is designed to reflect the growing duties of the six men and women under the new single national force, which came in to being last April.

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However, John Lamont, the Scottish Conservatives' chief whip, said: "One of the main reasons for creating a single force was to save money.

"To that end, we have seen the closure and reduction of hours in front desks, something we criticised heavily.

"So quite where these significant pay increases for senior staff fit into the efficiencies agenda I am not sure.

"People will be right to question whether or not Police Scotland has its priorities right."

Scottish Labour's justice spokesman, Graeme Pearson also believes the rises are "insensitive".

Brian Docherty, chairman of the Scottish Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, said the rise had caused "a bit of angst" given the force was going through a painful process of voluntary redundancies.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Government said its overall bill for senior officers had fallen since the new force began after what amounted to a cull of chief officers at the former forces around Scotland and agencies.

A spokeswoman said: "This has now reduced the total costs of the senior officer team by half to £2 million. "