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Friday 31 August 2012

New Police Authority chair should put force needs ahead of political targets says police staffs union

UNISON - the union for police staffs - congratulated Vic Emery on his  appointment as chair of the new Scottish Police Authority (SPA) but warned that he faces a near impossible challenge in maintaining the effectiveness of policing given current plans to cut back staffing in the new national force.

UNISON has concerns that the new national structure will decrease not just democratic accountability but may not be flexible enough to meet local needs. Of even greater concern are spending plans which will mean losing thousands of police staff jobs undermining the balanced workforce necessary for a modern police force.

George McIrvine, Chair of UNISON’s Police Staffs Committee commented:

“We wish Mr Emery well in his new role but he will have to grapple with the reality that hundreds of police officers are already being taken off the streets to backfill police staff jobs – jobs they aren’t trained to do and at a greater cost than the staff they replace – and this will rise significantly if current plans go ahead.

“We need a balanced workforce where the skills of police staffs enable police officers to do the job the public wants them to do, where they want them to do it – that is fighting crime, out on the streets. We hope Mr Emery will see his role as role as putting  the effectiveness of Scotland’s police service ahead of artificial political targets devised by Ministers.”

Notes to editors

1. As the Scottish Government has an arbitrary target to maintain police officer numbers at 17,234, the focus of the savings are concentrated on police staffs. This has resulted in over 1,000 police staff posts being lost already. As a consequence police officers are taking on the work of police staffs.

2. Other documents giving analysis of the Police reform process and UNISON’s campaign for a balanced, modern police force – rather than cutting thousands of police staff jobs – are available on UNISON’s police pages (http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/police/index.html)

For more information contact:
George McIrvine, chair of UNISON’s Police Staffs committee, on 07842 542677
Dave Watson, UNISON’s Scottish Organiser, on 07958 122 409