Thursday, 10 May 2012

UNISON calls for a balanced, modern police team ahead of parliamentary debate on national forces

UNISON response to stage 1 debate on Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Bill

A balanced, modern police team must be the focus for the future of Scottish policing. That was the message from UNISON, the police staff union, speaking ahead of today’s stage one debate on the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Bill at the Scottish Parliament.

The union has been highly critical of the Scottish Government’s plans to maintain an artificial target of police officers, a move the union says will result in the loss of thousands of civilian roles.

George McIrvine, chair of UNISON’s police committee, said the loss of these roles will lead to fewer police on our streets as officers are taken off the streets to perform the tasks of civilian staff.

He said: “We deserve an efficient and effective police force, with the right people doing the right jobs.

“To date, 1,000 police staff have already been cut and we’re seeing more and more police officers being taken off the streets to carry out these roles – roles they are untrained to do and at a greater cost to the taxpayer. The Scottish Government’s plans to maintain an artificial target of police officers will see between two and three thousand civilian jobs being cut - it’s a crazy strategy and it makes no economic or operational sense.

“We want to see a balanced, modern police team, with the right skills and expertise for an effective police force. We need the skills of police staffs to 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.”

Gerry Crawley, UNISON’s Regional Organiser, said: “On top of these cuts, the new national forces could see the police lose their VAT exemption which will cost Scottish taxpayers at least £30m. 

“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.”

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