Forty police officers serving communities across the north-east have criminal records, according to new figures released yesterday.
Four officers in Grampian have been convicted of either common or indecent assault, two for perverting the course of justice and eight for breach of the peace.
Twenty have been convicted of various driving offences and one for vandalism.
Two officers in Tayside have been convicted of assault, one for drink-driving, and two for careless or reckless driving.
Figures released under freedom of information legislation show 1,063 officers with criminal records work for Britain’s 41 police forces.
Some 170 officers are in Scotland’s eight forces.
The Liberal Democrats, who obtained the statistics, said it was “staggering” that so many people entrusted to protect the public have been caught breaking the law.
Justice spokesman Robert Brown said: “It is worrying that police officers convicted of serious crimes involving dishonesty or violence and even perverting the course of justice seem to have kept their jobs.”
He fears the number of officers with criminal records could be far higher because Northern Constabulary and Central Scotland Police did not respond to the freedom of information request.
Mr Brown has called on Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill to ensure the information is made public.
Grampian and Tayside Police stressed it is “rare” to recruit someone with a criminal past.
Deputy Chief Constable John McNab of Grampian Police said the force expected good conduct and high standards of integrity from its staff at all times.
“It is uncommon for a person with a criminal conviction to be recruited by Grampian Police,” he added.
“In service where wrongdoing is alleged, police officers are investigated and appropriate action is taken.
“Each case is judged on its own merits.”
Glen Erskine, secretary of Grampian Joint Branch Board of the Scottish Police Federation, said there should be “no automatic presumption” that an officer with a criminal conviction will lose their job.
Grampian Joint Police Board convener Martin Greig, a Lib Dem councillor, said he was confident that all new recruits are rigorously assessed to ensure they can be “trusted” to do the job.
Tayside Police Deputy Chief Constable Justine Curran said: ‘‘It is very rare that a person with a criminal conviction will be recruited into the police service.
“Should a situation arise where any misconduct, including a criminal offence, is alleged against a serving police officer, they will be thoroughly investigated and appropriate action taken.”
Tayside Chief constable Kevin Mathieson was forced to apologise to the public in January after he was caught speeding on the A9 near Kingussie.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The recruitment and retention of officers who have a criminal conviction is a matter for individual chief constables.”