Police Scotland facing £21 million ‘overspend’

Two were charged and given ASBO warnings Pic: John Devlin
Two were charged and given ASBO warnings Pic: John Devlin
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Police Scotland is expected to exceed its revenue budget by more than £20 million this year despite already identifying millions in savings.

In a report published yesterday, the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) said the national force is forecast to “overspend” its £1.1 billion budget by £21.2m.

The service is already enduring death by a thousand cuts and it is clear that the quality of service is suffering as a consequence

Calum Steele, Scottish Police Federation

An underspend on the smaller capital budget means the total overspend for financial year 2016-17 is forecast to be £11.5m.

James Gray, the SPA’s interim chief financial officer, said staff costs – which make up 90 per cent of the police budget – and failure to make savings at the level required were the cause of the problem.

In his report, he said: “The main reasons for the forecast revenue overspend are a combination of overspends against budget on both police officer and police staff costs as well as an overspend on non-pay costs as a result of not being able to realise the level of savings that had been targeted.

“A significant exercise had been undertaken by Police Scotland to analyse all non-pay budgets to identify where quick savings could be delivered. This has resulted in £5m of savings being identified, which has been factored into the forecast outturn.”

Staff associations have repeatedly raised concerns about the state of Police Scotland’s finances, with the Scottish Police Federation this week claiming cost-cutting had reached “farcical levels”.

Calum Steele, general secretary of the SPF, said: “The only surprise in the figures provided to the SPA is that they are not worse. The service is already enduring death by a thousand cuts and it is clear that the quality of service is suffering as a consequence. No amount of dressing it up can hide the fact that the government is failing in its first duty – to keep its citizens safe.”

Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said the figures highlighted the “challenge” facing the force.

He said: “We have been scrutinising costs which has already resulted in the identification of significant savings- this work continues in conjunction with the SPA. There will be no compulsory redundancies for police staff.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman added: “The Scottish Government is committed to protecting the police revenue budget in real terms for the entirety of this parliament, delivering an additional £100m of investment over the next five years in addition to £55m of reform funding in 2016-17.”