MSP says police cuts must stop

Highlands & Islands MSP and Shadow Transport and Islands Minster, David Stewart, has lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament calling on the Government to stop the underfunding of Police Scotland, after it was announced that the Force still need to save another £10.5 million.

The national force has already found £46.5m of the £57.5m in savings it must make to break even in 2015-2016.

But it will - for the third year in a row - ask its ruling board, the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), to support an unbalanced budget for the next 12 months.

The body representing the national force’s frontline operational commanders says its members are paying the price for maintaining numbers above a “political” 17,234.

The Association of Scottish Police Superintendents (Asps) issued its warning ahead of its annual conference and highlighted that Superintendent numbers have been cut by a quarter since the Police Service of Scotland was formed on 1 April 2013.

The Association President Superintendent Niven Rennie said “17,234 comes with a price tag. You cannot retain numbers and strip out everything else - it just doesn’t make sense”.

David Stewart said: “There is no surprise in what is developing with regards Police Scotland. With the Government insisting since the outset that Police Officer number would be retained it was obvious there would need to be a cull of Police Support Staff. This cull has been deep and damaging, but even now the cuts are not complete. If they cannot save money by culling Support Staff anymore and if the Chief Constable cannot reduce Officer numbers, then the only place left for him to go is the Police infrastructure, equipment and supporting facilities. We will end up with the bones with not very much meat on them”.

This destruction of our once proud and well regarded service has to stop and the safety of our communities has to be considered as well as the health and welfare of all those employed by Police Scotland.”