Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron has reacted with concern over recent figures which show that the number of special constables employed by Police Scotland has plummeted since 2013.

A recent Freedom of Information request by the Scottish Conservatives showed that the number of special constables across Scotland has dropped from 1228 in 2013 to just 810 in 2016, a fall of more than a third.

In the Highlands and Islands N Division, the number has dropped from 120 in 2013 to 99 in 2016 which represents a fall of almost 18%.

Special Constables are volunteers who wear the same uniform as regular police officers and have the same powers and responsibilities. They can be called upon to assist in all areas of police work including patrols, community engagement, specialist operations attending incidents and royal visits.

Police Scotland Chief Constable Phil Gormley described them as “a vital link between policing and the public”.

Scottish Conservative MSP Donald Cameron said: “I am very worried about this news given the planned cuts in regular police officer numbers and the overall strain on policing in Scotland.

Special Constables play an incredibly important role in local communities across the Highlands and Islands and support regular police officers in their duties.

Police Scotland need to address why so many Special Constables are leaving the force and also why they are struggling to recruit new officers in their place.”