Police ‘will struggle to keep public safe in 2015’

The Scottish Police Federation said there would be an 'inevitable impact' on officers. Picture: John Devlin

The Scottish Police Federation said there would be an 'inevitable impact' on officers. Picture: John Devlin

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POLICE Scotland will continue to find itself “stretched” by covering major public events, the body’s representing officers has warned.

The Scottish Police Federation (SPF) said there would be an “inevitable impact” on officers and resources from one-off policing operations.

The federation said that, despite an increase in officer numbers across Scotland, its members were “busier than ever”.

And there are claims properly resourcing new dedicated units for tackling child exploitation and human trafficking would put further strain on the force.

Police officers complained of facing huge disruption to their working lives and shift patterns in covering this year’s Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup.

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But in its submission to the Scottish Government’s consultation on its draft budget, the SPF said the problem would not lessen in the coming year.

Earlier this week, The Scotsman revealed Police Scotland has submitted a bill for Edinburgh’s Hogmanay party for the first time in the event’s 21-year history.

Calum Steele, general secretary of the SPF, the staff association which represents more than 99 per cent of police officers, said many of the events which had been scaled down in 2014 would now return to their normal size.

His submission said: “Whilst there are no Commonwealth Games or Ryder Cups scheduled to take place in Scotland in 2015-16, this does not mean police officers will be any less stretched.

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“The Scottish Police Federation considers it likely that, following postponement or reduced capacity events in 2014-15, many of the social events that demand police presence are likely to be more prolific and larger than before.

“This will have an inevitable impact on police officers and police resources.”

The SPF also warned that any attempts to change police officers’ working terms and conditions – as has happened in England and Wales – would be met with “the fiercest of opposition”.

The submission stated: “We wish to be clear that any question of pursuing a similar approach in Scotland will be met with the fiercest of opposition and be considered a flagrant betrayal of the contribution of the fine women and men of the Police Service of Scotland to delivering the first priority of government: keeping its citizens safe.

In response, assistant chief constable Bernard Higgins said: “Since April 2013, Police Scotland has already delivered a successful policing operations on the Commonwealth Games, Ryder Cup, T in the Park and 2013 Hogmanay in Edinburgh and the service has a strong track record in ensuring all those attending can do so in a safe and secure environment. These have been delivered at the same time as ensuring all communities continue to get a high standard of policing.”

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