Last year saw the broadcast release of the acclaimed police drama series, The Responder, which starred Martin Freeman as burnt-out officer Chris Carson in the main role.

It was a brilliant series that captured the stresses that frontline officers face on a nightly basis in a city like Liverpool.

The series was written by former Merseyside Police officer Tony Schumacher, so it is probably as close to real life as it can get for a crime show.

It is almost certainly very close to the harsh realities that real-life Police Scotland officers face on a nightly basis in our towns and cities.

What the show illustrates is the dark underbelly that exists in cities and how police officers have to deal with the very difficulty situations that are thrown up as a result.

Unfortunately, many officers suffer mental health issues as a result of doing their jobs – a reality that is perhaps only now being taken seriously treated by senior officers brass for the sake of the rank and file officers’ welfare.

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However, while officers put themselves in danger to protect the public on an almost nightly basis in our cities, on the Isle of Bute it appears that the opposite is the case.

For it is said that officers are “afraid to go out on duty” on the island where overnight cover has been slashed that has slashed overnight cover.

Quite what goes on after dark in Rothesay is unclear but clearly something terrifying does – either that or officers are afraid of the dark.

Police Scotland is trialling a new arrangement on Bute whereby officers are now on call, rather than on shift, from 12am to 8am during the week and from 2am to 8am at weekends.

Emergency calls are directed to staff in a Glasgow call centre who then alert local officers to respond.

Police Scotland say the revised model, which has reduced the number of shifts from five to three, will increase the number of officers at “key times” and say it is being tested against high demand, when visitor numbers to the island are greatest.

Gary Steele, a retired police sergeant who spent 17 years in the senior role on the island, has previously warned that the new model is “an open invitation for criminals”.

But Chief Inspector Sam Glasgow said the previous system created “unacceptable risks” for police and is better suited to urban areas where police numbers are bigger.

However, locals say a public meeting held earlier this month with police failed to allay their concerns.

Islander Jann Hurwood said: “The local sergeant actually said her staff were afraid to go out on duty.

“One resident actually pointed out the police force by its nature involved an element of danger and surely anyone joining the profession surely would understand that. So, if local police were afraid to go out because they felt under-resourced, the change would not resolve the underlying issue.”

The welfare of frontline police officers is, of course, rightly a priority for senior officers.

But it shouldn’t come at the expense of the welfare of the general public, which is the sole reason for having a police force, after all.

If officers are too “scared” to patrol a place like Bute, which is not known as a notorious hotbed of criminal activity, then they are clearly in the wrong job.

Recent high-profile cases involving rogue police officers at the Met have already eroded public confidence in the police.

Police Scotland’s own outgoing chief constable, Sir Iain Livingstone, then undermined his own officers in the eyes of the public when he declared that the force was institutionally racist, sexist, misogynistic and discriminatory.

It was a damning assessment but, as it came from the man who has been in charge for years, it makes you wonder why he didn’t tackle the issues it sooner.

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Of course, it all comes amidst cash shortages that is forcing Police Scotland to look at different ways to operate.

The number of police in Scotland has fallen to reached its lowest level for almost 14 years with almost 700 officers having quit the force in the last year alone.

Police Scotland had 16,610 full-time equivalent (FTE) officers in its ranks at the end of June 2022 – the lowest number since the creation of the single national police force.

It is therefore understandable that pilots are being trialled in a way to save resources.

Fewer officers mean that an already over-stretched force has to be innovative in the way that it does its core tasks – keeping the public safe and fighting crime.

Government ministers must remember this when it comes to the allocation of resources.

Police must be funded properly and more officers recruited and trained – even ones who are afraid of the dark.