Police officers are said to be relying on their own smartphones to investigate crime because the force’s IT systems are so out of date.
The Scottish Police Federation said Police Scotland was being forced to fight “21st century crime with 1990s technology”.
The SPF, which represents rank and file officers, claimed many of its members used their own mobiles due to difficulties in getting online using force computers.
The warning came in the same week the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents said cyber-criminals had “evolved” faster than the officers investigating them.
In a submission to a Scottish Government consultation on police priorities, the SPF said the “trickle of money” for IT projects meant the service would only be able to afford to “invest in yesterday’s technology for delivery tomorrow”.
Police Scotland is fighting 21st century crime with technology developed in the 1990s.POLICE FEDERATION
And it said there was an “inherent risk” in assuming online capabilities only related to serious and organised crime when searching for missing people, stolen property or tracking offenders also increasingly involves using the internet.
Calum Steele, general secretary of the SPF, said: “Our operating systems are so old then tend not to support most of the modern internet browsers.
“People who go missing - they live their lives online, whether it’s Snapchat or Facebook. Cops are working around it by using their own phones, their own technology to try and investigate when people are going missing and all the rest of it.
“The fact that we don’t have a proper IT infrastructure makes everything considerably slower, much more expensive and much less efficient.”
Earlier this week, Audit Scotland confirmed it would review the scrapped i6 IT programme as part of its annual report into the Scottish Police Authority.
The £60m project, which sought to bring together more than 100 existing IT systems, was abandoned earlier this year after being plagued by glitches.
Martin Leven, director of ICT for Police Scotland said: “Police officers have a range of ICT systems they use on a daily basis. Since Police Scotland was formed in 2013, a number of national ICT applications have been successfully implemented including replacing or upgrading a significant amount of dated hardware, and real progress has been made towards the delivery of a new national network and standardised modern national desktop computers.
“We are continuing to work with the Scottish Police Federation and other staff associations to develop a sustainable policing model, which includes looking at how we can further improve our ICT infrastructure.”