Increase in police capital spending needed, say MSPs

22.11.2019

A new report from MSPs on the Justice Sub-Committee on Policing looking at police capital spending has concluded that an above inflation increase is vital to allow officers to operate efficiently.

Key findings from this report, which will form an annexe of the main Justice Committee’s pre-budget report to the government, include:

* The budget for the police estate, including stations and cars, is insufficient;

* Spending on new technology should not be prioritised over getting core, basic ICT right;

* The Sub-Committee does not see the rationale in plans to reduce police officer numbers by 400 following Brexit, with the ‘reserve force’ created for this purpose being deployed routinely at present.

Speaking as the report was launched, Sub-Committee Convener John Finnie MSP, said:

“The capital budget for police stations and cars is insufficient, and the Sub-Committee is clear that a substantial above inflation increase in funding for the police estate is sorely needed. Conditions and equipment are too often dilapidated. This doesn’t help the police in keeping people, or indeed themselves, safe.

“That said, we also want to ensure money is spent wisely and in the best interests of the public and police. We have a number of questions for the Police Authority and the police themselves about the basis of their spending decisions. We want to see money spent on the right priorities.”

Areas the Scottish Police Authority and Police Scotland are asked to update the Sub-Committee on include how they will engage better with staff associations and trade unions to understand their budget priorities, and how the SPA approaches its scrutiny of police spending options, in particular the work done around the proposed reduction of 750 officers as the best way to cut revenue spending.

Background

The budget for the Police Scotland’s capital spending is as follows:

Assessment of capital requirement compared to capital funding for the last three financial years[1]

 Financial Year  Policing assessment of capital Requirement (£m)  Capital funding available* (£m)  Percentage of capital requirement met by funding provided (%)
2017/18  88.0  42.4  48%
2018/19  72.3  41.6  57%
 2019/20  99.3  43.1  43%
 

The 2019/20 annual budget for the SPA was £1,136.7billion. 96.9% of the annual spending is undertaken by Police Scotland, with the remainder incurred by Forensic Services (2.7%) and the SPA Corporate body (0.4%).

 

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