A BLAZING row has broken out between an MP and two local MSPs over figures reporting a significant rise in anti-social behaviour in West Dunbartonshire.

Police Scotland figures revealed that incidents increased by 7 per cent in the year from April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018 – 2 per cent above the national average.

A total of 7,283 incidents were reported over the 12-month period, meaning that an average of 20 calls reporting issues such as noise, littering and vandalism are made to local police every day.

Tory MSP for West of Scotland Maurice Corry told the Reporter: “Anti-social behaviour impacts massively on our communities and badly damages people’s quality of life particularly the elderly and the vulnerable.

“This is another indicator that the SNP’s soft touch approach to crime is failing communities. This comes at the same time that the SNP are overseeing a continued fall in police numbers and police morale, which is now at an all-time low.

“Police officers need more support so that they are not increasingly filling out paperwork rather than patrolling our streets.

“The SNP must ensure we have enough police officers on our streets to detect and deter anyone undertaking anti-social behaviour, and reassure the public that they will be protected.”

The Conservatives have pointed towards reports that the number of Police Scotland officers could be cut in the coming years as the service aims to tackle a £30 million “black hole” in its finances.

But Dumbarton’s MP, Martin Docherty-Hughes, accused the Conservatives of hypocrisy on the issue.

He said: “Tackling anti-social behaviour is a key issue in our communities and I’m reassured by police that it continues to be a priority in West Dunbartonshire.

“In the past residents may have been reluctant to report anti-social behaviour, but it’s important that the police and local authorities are made aware of these incidents so repeat offenders can be identified and negative behaviours tackled.

“The Tories have a cheek though to criticise policing in Scotland when crime rates down south are soaring under a Tory UK government that has slashed police budgets and cut officer numbers by 20,000.

“By contrast, in Scotland crime is at a 43 year low and there are more police on our streets since the SNP came to power.”

And Mr Docherty-Hughes’ SNP colleague, MSP Gil Paterson, also denied the SNP was “soft on crime”.

He said: “Anti-social behaviour is a blight on communities and should be taken seriously but we must not forget that more serious crimes, such as the wave of knife attacks and shootings currently sweeping London, are at an all-time low in Scotland.

“This disproves any allegation of the SNP government being soft on crime.

“When the SNP first formed the Scottish Government in 2007 there were nearly a thousand fewer police officers than there are today. In contrast the Tory-run police force in England and Wales has seen police numbers plummet by 13.3 per cent during the same period.

“Police Scotland have said that they wish to change the balance of the workforce involving a modest and phased reduction by 2020 of up to 400 police officers – not 1,200.”

The national picture is no better, with a five per cent increase on last year in reports of anti-social behaviour, and nearly 1,000 incidents being reported every day across Scotland.