UNISON response to stage 1 report on Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Bill
Plans to maintain the Scottish Government’s target of 1,000 extra police officers will lead to large scale civilian cuts and turn the policing clock back decades, warns UNISON.
The union’s warning follows today’s (Wednesday) publication of the Justice Committee’s stage 1 report on the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Bill.
While UNISON welcomes the committee’s decision to seek clarification on the impact of police staff redundancies, UNISON says the sheer magnitude of cuts will lead to an inefficient and outdated police service.
Dave Watson, UNISON’s Scottish Organiser, said:
“The committee needs to look beyond the small print and see how the Government’s targets of recruiting an extra 1,000 police officers will decimate Scottish policing. The committee can be assured that if police targets are maintained, then large scale civilian cuts will follow, as sure as night follows day.
“The projected savings from the move to a single police force will be primarily achieved by reducing the number of police staffs by thousands. This is nothing but a recipe for service chaos and makes no economic sense, as police officers are taken off the streets to carry out the roles of civilian staff – jobs they are not trained to do and at a greater cost to the taxpayer.”
The report also highlighted the committee’s concerns about the loss of VAT (known as s33 status) that would result if the single fire and police services are established as proposed by the Scottish Government.
Mr Watson continued:
“The committee is rightly concerned about the loss of VAT exemption which will cost at least £30m. This means Scottish taxpayers will have to foot an additional bill of around £26m for the police and between £4m and £10m for the fire and rescue service.
“If the new national forces were organised on the basis of local authorities, not only would this strengthen local democratic accountability, but it would retain s33 status and maintain the exemption to the taxpayer.”