MSPs tell Scottish Government policing budget is 'insufficient'

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MSPs have urged the Scottish Government to invest more in police capital spending, including on police stations and vehicles.

A report, published by Holyrood's Justice Sub-Committee on Policing, claims the current spending level is insufficient.

Last month, all officers in Scotland were issued with mobile devices to allow them to spend more time on the beat. Picture: JPIMedia

Last month, all officers in Scotland were issued with mobile devices to allow them to spend more time on the beat. Picture: JPIMedia

Members called for a "substantial above inflation increase" in funding, due to risks to the health and safety of officers, staff and those in custody.

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The report also called into question the reduction of police numbers by 750 in a bid to save money.

MSPs said they did not understand the thought process behind the move by police authorities, which has been postponed until after the UK leaves the EU.

The committee also felt more needed to be invested in core ICT, as opposed to new technologies.

Last month, all officers in Scotland were issued with mobile devices to allow them to spend more time on the beat.

Sub-committee convener John Finnie MSP said: "The capital budget for police stations and cars is insufficient and the sub-committee is clear that a substantial above inflation increase in funding for the police estate is sorely needed.

"Conditions and equipment are too often dilapidated.

"This doesn't help the police in keeping people, or indeed themselves, safe."

Mr Finnie also pushed for Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority to better spend their funding.

He said: "We also want to ensure money is spent wisely and in the best interests of the public and police.

"We have a number of questions for the Police Authority and the police themselves about the basis of their spending decisions.

"We want to see money spent on the right priorities."

Both bodies have been asked to keep the sub-committee aware of how they plan to better engage with unions and other staff organisations on the priorities for the police budget and the

SPA has been asked to report on how it scrutinises spending options, in particular the decision to get rid of 750 officers.

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: "We welcome the committee's report and will consider its findings in relation to ongoing discussions around the spending review.

"Despite constraints on Scotland's public services through a decade of UK austerity, policing services have been maintained and improved, with significantly more police officers than at any time before 2007.

"Since 2016-17, the annual budget for policing has increased by more than £80 million, bringing it to £1.2 billion for 2019-20.

"The service's capital budget allocation has also increased by £12 million - 52% - in 2019-20 to help enhance its ICT capabilities, including rollout of mobile technology, enabling officers to spend more time in the communities they serve."