Tue 21 February 2012
Police staff union UNISON has voiced concerns in Parliament over plans for a new Scottish police force – especially the direct threat to 2,000 jobs. UNISON today told the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government Committee that police chiefs plan to meet government budget constraints almost entirely by cutting 2000 vital support staff – even though a thousand staff posts have already been cut in the last year.
George McIrvine, vice-chair of UNISON’s Scottish Police Committee told MSPs:
“Clearly our major concern is the direct threat to 2,000 vital police staff jobs. There is a concern that the projected savings from the move to a single police force will be mainly achieved by drastically reducing the number of police staff. A recent ACPOS paper indicated as many as 2,000 posts were under threat. Cutting police staff is a dangerous strategy. It makes no economic or policing sense. It simply means that important support and expert jobs are increasingly done at great expense by police officers - who should really be out in our streets and communities upholding law and order.
“We know the Police Reform Group have a huge efficiency savings requirement and they are also constrained under the figure of 17,234 police officers and a no compulsory redundancy policy. Something’s got to give. But we are already effectively de-civilianising Scottish policing at the moment. You can’t get rid of thousands of police staff jobs without having a negative impact on policing. We need the right people for the right jobs.”
The union also warned of compulsory redundancy issues which could affect council staff being transferred to the new police force, and a loss of democratic accountability which is currently ensured by local authority representation on police boards.
George McIrvine said:
“We have serious concerns about workforce planning for the new force - particularly for staff who may be currently employed by local authorities but are working for police forces - for example in shared services, such as camera safety partnerships. The Bill states that such staff will be transferred, subject to a staff transfer scheme - but there is little detail. UNISON Scotland wants clarification on whether police staffs, once transferred to the new Scottish Police Authority, would be subject to the Scottish Government guidance on non compulsory redundancies.
“We also have concerns about the democratic accountability of a single police force which is currently ensured by local authority representation on police boards. The new arrangements could break the link between communities and their local police force. And we believe that the move to a national police force fails to meet the Christie Commission’s criteria for reform of public services. Policing must be built around the people it serves."
Notes to editors
1. UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union representing over 162,000 members working in the public sector in Scotland, and represents police staffs in Scotland.
2. UNISON Scotland Evidence to Scottish Parliament Committees on the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Bill published in Feb 2012
Evidence to Local Government Committee:
Evidence to Justice Committee:
Evidence to Finance Committee (available from 22 February 2012):
3. UNISON Scotland’s document ‘Future of Policing in Scotland - Response to Scottish Government consultation’ published in May 2011:
4. UNISON Scotland commissioned Stewart Research to examine the benefits of police staff – the report ‘Civilianisation of Police in Scotland’ was published in May 2009: