Date: Wednesday 16 April 2008
Staff should be given wider role to properly resource police service
UNISONScotland, the union that represents police staffs, today
called on the Scottish Government to maximise their use in a wider
range of jobs to allow more police officers to return to operational
In a briefing circulated to MSPs prior to today's debate on a
Justice Committee Report, the union claimed the issue had only been
given limited consideration in the report.
Dave Watson, UNISON's Scottish Organiser (Policy) said: "Police
staffs play a crucial role in the operations of the Scottish police
forces, with a wide range of jobs from caretaking to custody officers,
and from finance to forensics. These roles and the numbers have
grown in recent years, partly reflecting the increased specialisation
of police functions and partly to free police officers from duties
that do not require full police powers."
UNISON also argues for further consideration to be given to the
role of community support officers or their equivalent, pointing
to England where they make up 6% of the total workforce.
Dave Watson said: "The use of community wardens in Scottish local
government has given a valuable insight into the positive role these
and similar staff can play in improving community safety, to complement
not substitute for police officers."
UNISON also says that forces should be using staff with particular
skills, more. Dave Watson said: "Police staffs are not a cheap option
or substitute for police officers. Properly qualified specialists
are often the most effective way to deliver complex functions whether
this is in IT or Forensics, allowing the release of more police
officers for front line duties."
Overall police staffs, as a proportion of the total workforce in
Scottish police forces, range from 28% in Strathclyde to 36% in
Grampian, with the national average being 31%. This is not as high
as the proportion elsewhere in the UK, and UNISON Scotland believes
that there is scope for further civilianisation within Scottish
police forces. For example, call handlers and dispatchers in Dumfries
and Galloway are 100% police staffs compared with no police staff
dispatchers in Central Scotland.
Note for editors: The UNISON briefing is available from
Chris Bartter (below)
For Further Information Please Contact: Dave Watson (Scottish
Organiser) 07958 122 409(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer)
07715 583 729(m)