Police cuts to cost Scots taxpayers £60m

Chief Constable of the new Police Service of Scotland, Stephen House. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Chief Constable of the new Police Service of Scotland, Stephen House. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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TAXPAYERS face a £60 million bill for cutting key civilian staff from Scotland’s police service under proposals agreed by ministers and the new single force.

Some employees will be axed, but still receive 15 months’ salary and a cheque for £10,000 under proposed plans.

Scotland’s eight existing ­forces will become Police ­Scotland in April, headed by Chief Constable Stephen House.

The controversial redundancy plans have been backed by minsters on the condition that a merger would bring efficiencies and save public money.

But the Scottish Government’s policy of maintaining police officer numbers means a huge chunk of the savings will come from axing civilian staff.

Staff that are being cut perform vital support services including forensics, fingerprints and control room functions, raising fears there will be a negative impact on the police force.

The Scottish Government has agreed, in principle, to a national redundancy scheme which has been drawn up by the SPA.

The plan shows that for the majority of employees in their 50s, an early retirement package will be available and the pay-off will include a lump sum capped at 30 weeks’ salary.

Other staff will be offered redundancy which will include a cash payment based on the number of completed years of service.

However, a 50-year-old with 20 years’ service will get 66 weeks of pay, and staff who take redundancy will get an additional £10,000 on top of their payment. This £10,000 sum was agreed in a bid to attract younger staff to the force with fewer years of service.

In Strathclyde, it is estimated that 57 per cent of police staff have fewer than ten years of service. The paper calculated the potential cost of the scheme on the case of 1,400 staff being cut.

The results show that it would cost the taxpayer £61.3m, mainly funded by the Scottish Government, making the annual savings from staff cuts £39.8m.

A separate SPA board paper shows that agreement has been reached on the national redundancy plans. However, concerns have been raised on the effects of the cuts, with critics fearing police officers, who are normally free from desk-based duties, will be used to replace police staff roles.

Gerry Crawley, the lead negotiator for police support staff at the Unison union, said: “There is no necessity for this level of redundancy. It will result in police officers covering support staff roles, a situation that is not best value and which will end up costing the taxpayer more.”

A spokesman for the SPA said there was “no target” for the number of staff who may be accepted for voluntary redundancy. He said that “financial structures” had been required to understand the potential impact of the scheme.

He added: “This was provided by Police Scotland and includes an indication of what the costs associated with 1,400 people look like. That was assessed as a sensible midpoint between the best and the already much-publicised worst-case scenarios.”