UNISON Scotland will issue a stark warning to MSPs today – cut police staff and you cut frontline services.
The union will tell Holyrood’s Justice Committee that reducing the number of police staff will result in a reduction of services, less police officers on the beat and a potential increase in crime in local communities. It has also branded the Government’s plans to recruit 1,000 additional police officers as nothing more than a “cosmetic political exercise”.
Police boards currently face a real terms cut of at least six per cent and, as police numbers have to be maintained, the cuts will fall almost entirely on police (civilian) staff. Boards have also reported that, as a consequence, they will have to backfill civilian posts with police officers.
UNISON’s Scottish Organiser Dave Watson said: “Police staff deliver a wide range of routine, complex and specialised functions that are central to modern day police forces, while allowing uniformed officers to concentrate on operational policing duties.
“Maintaining an additional 1,000 police officers in this budget is a purely cosmetic political exercise. In practice, even more police officers will be taken off the street to perform tasks they are unsuited or unqualified to do - at a huge additional cost to the taxpayer.”
Many forces in Scotland are already way behind in the efficient deployment of police staffs. In England, 39% of police personnel are civilians (32% excluding PCSOs), while in Scotland it has fallen to 26.5%. The best forces in Scotland have modernised to these levels: Dumfries & Galloway has 33% while outdated Strathclyde can only manage 25%.
He added: “This budget means that efficient forces like Dumfries & Galloway will be dragged down to the levels of the worst; like Strathclyde who have large numbers of police officers behind a desk rather than fighting crime.
“Focusing cuts on police staffs will have serious implications for policing across Scotland and it is vital that we protect the ability to deliver our frontline services.”