Police Scotland: Starved of Cash
SCOTLAND’S police force is so starved of cash that it is struggling to keep buildings, vehicles and equipment in operation, MSPs have been told.
Senior figures from Police Scotland warned that the condition of police stations and other parts of its estate could deteriorate further unless additional resources are found.
David Page, deputy chief officer for Police Scotland, said that as it stood, the force was effectively ‘putting band aids’ on to try to deal with problems with buildings, vehicles and computer systems.
Speaking at a Holyrood committee yesterday, he said: ‘We’ve got to try to keep the fleet, estate and ICT (information and communication technologies) working, which we are struggling to do.’
Chief financial officer James Gray said the single force has not yet received any indication on whether it would get extra money for capital spending next year.
He added: ‘We do have a positive case around the benefits we can bring through getting our asset base, our buildings, our vehicles and our ICT into a fit-for-purpose state for policing in the 21st century.
‘I think it is understood we do require additional capital funding, and we await the outcome of the budget to see if that reflects what we have said in hard cash.’
Their comments came after the Scottish Police Federation (SPF) – which represents rank and file officers – said earlier this year that two police stations should be closed because of health and safety concerns.
Oban police station was described as ‘unfit for human habitation’, with mould and crumbling plasterwork, while the station at Lochgilphead had suffered a rat infestation.
Mr Page said Police Scotland could allocate only 12.5 per cent of its budget to deal with ‘non pay’, such as the condition of buildings and vehicles.
He told the justice sub-committee on policing: ‘The investment required in the estate since 2013 has been considerably less than we have been asking for.
‘The settlements we get are that small we have to put the money into health and safety, so effectively we’re putting band aids on the estate itself and what we are not doing is addressing the shortfalls in the condition of the estate.’
A survey in 2015 showed 30 per cent of the estate was in a poor condition, and Mr Page added: ‘We’ve never been able to address that because the funding is of a size that all we’ve been able to do is try to keep the lights on.
‘The problem with that is over time it degrades.’
Elaine Wilkinson of the Scottish Police Authority visited Oban after the SPF report was published, and told the committee: ‘Some of the custody facilities had to be closed temporarily. There were officers from vehicles from outside that area having to be brought in to transfer those in custody to another area. That is inefficient use of resources.’
A Scottish Government spokesman said: ‘By protecting the police revenue budget in real terms, we are delivering an additional £100million throughout this parliament, with annual funding now more than £1.2billion.’
The SNP are the problem, not the solution.