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Date: Mon 22 October 2012

UNISON tells MSPs that Scottish Police Authority & Chief Constable must decide police officer/police staff balance, not Cabinet Secretary

UNISON, which represents police staff will tomorrow (Tuesday 23 Oct) tell MSPs considering the draft Budget that Government direction on police officer numbers is “economic madness.”

Scottish Organiser Dave Watson, giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee, will say that the new single police force must not be constrained by the Government insisting on maintaining police officer numbers at the arbitrary figure of 17,234.

He will say: “UNISON believes that the Scottish Police Authority and the Chief Constable should be able to decide the correct balance of police officers and police staff using Best Value principles.

“They should not be subject to a political direction from the Cabinet Secretary for Justice that effectively restricts cuts to police staffs.”

The 17,234 figure limits how the force can make savings. It is the key factor in proposals which could see up to 3,200 vital police support staff posts axed, with potentially up to 2000 police officers taken off fighting crime full time to provide cover.

Dave Watson will say:

“The vast majority of these job cuts can only be achieved by substituting police officers for the roles currently undertaken by police staffs.

“Taking trained operational police officers off the streets to perform administrative or specialist tasks – at greater cost, is economic madness. It is also contrary to the Best Value provisions in the Act.

“This will return the police service in Scotland to almost the 1980s, with inefficient and outdated police practice.”


For further comment please contact:
Dave Watson, Scottish Organiser on 07958 122409
Fiona Montgomery, Communications Officer, on 07508 877000
Malcolm Burns, Communications Officer, on 0141 322 2877 or 07876 566978 

Notes for Editors:

1. UNISON’s written evidence to the Justice Committee is online at www.scottish.parliament.uk/S4_JusticeCommittee/

2. Police staffs are properly qualified civilian personnel delivering a wide range of routine, complex and specialised functions that are central to modern day police forces, while allowing uniformed officers to concentrate on operational policing duties. They include custody staff, front office, traffic wardens, licensing staff, clerical support, intelligence gathering, control room and forensic staff. Already police officers are being drafted in, typically at twice the salary, to undertake these duties.

3. 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 our website on the police pages http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/police/index.html