Po­lice bud­get cuts would be an ‘act of van­dal­ism’

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - By Rachel Wat­son Deputy Scot­tish Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor

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.’

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