Police budget cuts would be an ‘act of vandalism’
BUDGET cuts to Scotland’s police force amount to ‘an act of policing vandalism’, it was claimed yesterday.
Scottish Police Federation (SPF) general secretary Calum Steele has warned police and community relations could be put back ‘for at least a decade’ if Police Scotland is forced to make year-on-year cuts.
He described the current funding settlement for the force as ‘woeful’ and claimed criticism from rank and file officers on the ground was becoming ‘more vocal and pointed’. Scotland’s policing budget fell from £1.2billion in 2012-13 to £987million in 2015-16, according to policing bosses.
A three-year-plan to wipe out the current £63million deficit by 2021 would see 750 police officers cut.
In the letter, released under freedom of information legislation, Mr Steele has compared the Scottish Government’s approach to that of the Conservative UK Government, which has been heavily criticised by the SNP after thousands of officers were cut in England and Wales.
Mr Steele, whose union represents rank and file officers, said: ‘The cuts to policing in England and Wales were ill advised and have probably set police and community relations back for at least a decade.
‘The Scottish Government is kidding itself if it considers it won’t face the same backlash for pursuing the self-same thing.’
Boris Johnson has pledged to boost police numbers by 20,000 south of the Border with a £1.1billion windfall for forces. This is expected to result in a £100million-a-year boost for the Scottish Government, which Mr Steele said must be used for more officers in Scotland.
He said: ‘If it chooses not to use it, it will be impossible to conclude anything other than the Government is deliberately pursuing an act of policing vandalism to the detriment of the citizens of Scotland.’
A Scottish Government spokesman last night said: ‘Ministers reject entirely this characterisation of policing in the SPF general secretary’s letter.’