The number of police officers in Scotland is at its lowest level for nine years

In the first three months of year, Police Scotland had the equivalent of 17,170 full time officers, according to Scottish Government statistics.

The last time the number of officers was lower was in the first three months of 2009, when the total was 17,048.

Officer numbers increased after the SNP came into power in 2007, with the party committed to putting 1,000 extra police on the streets.

The party, however, came under fire for this policy, which critics said meant too much focus was put on officers over civilian workers. The SNP achieved its aim in June 2009, with the number of officers having remained at above or about 17,250 since then.

Ministers dropped the commitment in 2016 and the total

total for January to March this year dropped by 86 from the 17,256 recorded in October to December 2017.

Despite the fall in officer numbers Justice Secretary Michael Matheson stressed frontline policing was being maintained, with staff being freed up from back office roles.

However Mr Matheson said Scotland still had "significantly" more police than when the SNP came to power in 2007 - with 16,265 full time equivalent officers in April to June that year.