SCOTLAND’S police officers are worried they do not have the resources to prevent a terrorist attack, the General Secretary of the Scottish Police Federation has claimed.

Calum Steele said a consequence of the black hole at the heart of the national force’s finances was more time and effort going into reactive policing, and not enough being done stop an attack from happening in the first place.

His comments came as the latest survey of Police Scotland’s rank and file showed that 72 per cent of officers don’t believe they have the resources to do their job effectively. In last year’s survey of staff that number was 54 per cent.

Steele said while it was understandable that the current terror threat meant Scotland’s “strategic assets” received additional resources, and responses from the force, it was taking away from policing elsewhere.

“The inevitable consequence of doing that is that the wider communities, who also deserve a physical policing presence and confidence, see their services being diminished, and we are getting to the strange stage where in trying to deal with the reactive side of policing we are doing that at the cost of investment in the preventive side of policing,” the trade union leader said.

He added: “If you have communities that are confident that they are going to be safe, that they are not going to be subject to low-level crime and criminality, and are not going to be neglected by police, then the likelihood for some of the simmering resentment, and hostility and anger and desire to lash out at the institutions of the state are diminished significantly, and ultimately work towards creating more cohesive communities rather than ones where people feel marginalised, ostracised and unable to take a significant part in community life.”

The issue was raised during First Minister’s Questions, with Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson asking Nicola Sturgeon to “assure the chamber that the police will be given all the support that they need to tackle this threat, so that the public are given the reassurances that they require?”

The First Minister said she was “happy to give that assurance”.

She added: “I have indeed been assured by the chief constable that he has the resources that he requires to respond appropriately. There will continue to be – as, I should say, there always is – on-going dialogue between the Scottish Government and our police service to ensure that the police have the resources that are required.”

Police Scotland substantially increased the number of armed officers on patrol on Wednesday night.

Deputy Chief Constable Johnny Gwynne told the BBC there were “well practised plans in place to increase security around the country when things like this happen and those were put in place within minutes of the incident happening”.

He added: “Members of the public will have seen an increased police presence particularly around our major conurbations yesterday afternoon, through the evening and again this morning as Scotland travels to work.

“That’s what you would expect to see. Within that we have officers who have armed capability. Regrettably in the world we live in today that’s something that we need to put in place and there’s a substantial armed presence on the streets this morning, not just in Scotland but elsewhere.”

He added: “There’s been a substantial uplift in armed officers overnight to make sure that we keep the streets of Scotland safe, that we keep the people of Scotland safe, the businesses in Scotland safe, on an ongoing basis.”

Gwynne also paid tribute to PC Keith Palmer, who died in the attack.

A JustGiving page set up to support PC Palmer’s family raised over £100,000 within six hours.