Concerns have been raised that reports of anti-social behaviour to Police Scotland’s call centre are not being taken seriously.
The problem was raised during discussions at a meeting of the Moray Council police and fire and rescue services committee on Thursday.
Conservative councillor for Keith and Cullen, Donald Gatt, raised the issue during discussions on the number of police officers working across Moray, Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.
As of September last year there were 1064 full-time equivalent officers serving across the three areas.
Cllr Gatt highlighted that the numbers had fallen from 1115 in 2017 and from 1428 in 2012 under Grampian Police.
He said: “You need the staff to be able to do the job that the public wants you to do, and I appreciate you have a hard time in actually doing it.
“The biggest thing that’s reared its head with communities in Keith and Cullen is anti-social behaviour, which has been on the up in some areas that you would never dream of it actually happening.
“Constituents of mine have contacted me regards the 101 call centre, and the accusation has been made the call centre on particular incidents, that is reporting anti-social behaviour after it has happened, they didn’t want to know.
“You could take one report of that incident in isolation but I’ve now heard three or four, and that leads me to bring it up as a matter of concern.”
Chief superintendent Neil McDonald explained since the single police force came into operation officers in areas including roads, organised crime, terrorism and intelligence worked as part of national teams and that impacted on numbers locally.
He acknowledged there had been difficulties with people getting through to the call centre, with Covid-related staff absences and additional social distancing measures impacting on response times.
CS McDonald said: “We prioritise 999 calls which are answered primarily in under ten seconds, and the 101 calls then get managed thereafter.”
Independent councillor for Speyside Glenlivet, Derek Ross, asked if there had been an increase in vandalism since lockdown ended.
He said: “I heard anecdotally in some areas groups of youths have been a problem within our communities.”
CS McDonald told the meeting while there had been an increase compared to the early lockdown period, the problem had returned to pre-pandemic levels.