Local MSP Rhoda Grant, Labour, has hit out at proposals contained within a draft report for the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) which she claims would cut between 300 and 1176 Officers.
Rhoda Grant said:
“As I understand it the Officer capacity creation programme for 2019/2020 has potential targets set at low (300 Officers) medium(478 Officers) and high( 657 Officers). However for 2020/2021 the high target is set at an astonishing 1176 Officers.
“ If agreed and implemented this proposal will destroy the SNP claim that they will always maintain Police numbers.
“ My concern is with regards to the impact of such a measure should it be implemented on the scattered communities of the Highlands & Islands. It really beggars belief. Since the inception of Police Scotland they have got rid of hundreds of civilian staff and backfilled these posts with front line Officers. This was all carried out in order to maintain Officer numbers. Saving had to be made, but the SNP could not cut Officer numbers after claiming that they would maintain them, so the unfortunate civilian staff had to go. Now for further savings to be realised they have to reduce the number of Police Officers, so they do that under what they now call Capacity Creation.
“ We seem to jump from one crisis to another with regards the functionality of the SPA and those at a senior level within Police Scotland. This news will erode further public confidence and even morale amongst the hard pressed front line Officers who are doing a first class job in difficult circumstances. Whatever the number of reductions are, we now know that it will be at least 300 Officers.”
The draft report presents various scenarios for future Police Scotland budgets. The Capacity Creation Programme aims to streamline processes, reduce bureuacracy and make more savings through digital technology.
The proposed financial plan assumes a reduction of 300 officers by 1st April 2019 but also goes on to present the other scenarios.
“Beyond the 300 reduction in 2019/20, capacity creation does not directly equate to a reduction in Officer numbers. Any proposals beyond 2019/20 will be subject to full consultation when the Policing 2026 Strategy is refreshed for 2020 onwards.” SPA Draft 3 Year Financial Plan 2018/19 to 2020/21
And for the ten year projections, the draft report says:
“[It] is not intended to be a 10 year budget exercise; there are too many uncertainties across financial, political, social and economic variables to make it possible to forecast the level of funding that will be available to the Authority in 2027/28, and expenditure levels will be determined by organisational decisions that have not yet been made.
It is not proposed for this strategy to be used as a detailed long term financial planning tool, in the way that the Three Year Financial Plan is. Instead, it seeks to set out broad financial parameters which should be considered when making financial decisions over the short and medium term. It also provides an indication of the indicative financial impacts that could arise as a result of certain external factors, such as future funding levels.” Draft Ten Year Strategy