The national force needs £206 million extra funding from the Scottish Government to modernise its computer systems.
Appearing before the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) board in Edinburgh yesterday, Deputy Chief Officer David Page said the necessary improvements were now seven years overdue.
Police Scotland’s most senior civilian officer said: “What we try to be very clear on here is the risk of not doing this.
“Our officers and our staff have been struggling for six years with poor technology. It makes their job more difficult, it gives the bad guys an edge over us and it means that we don’t support the public as well as we should do.
“If we don’t invest and we don’t make this improvement that gap is only going to get worse, which means we’re only going to fail to serve as we should do.
“That’s with today’s situation. If we look at 2026 and the type of investment that criminals are making, serious organised crime is making, and the way that they exploit technology at pace, we will fall rapidly behind the curve.”
The Scotsman revealed earlier this week that an outline business case prepared by consultants Ernst & Young at the cost of more than £600,000 had identified the need for £206m worth of investment.
It follows the publication last year of Police Scotland’s 10-year strategy, Policing 2026, which included plans to cut 400 officers by late 2020 and place an increased reliance on technology.
Mr Page told the SPA board that the modernisation programme could be done for less but would take longer, running the risk that some of the technology could become outdated.
Police Scotland’s £46m i6 computer project was cancelled at the eleventh hour in 2016 after testing discovered a series of glitches.
It had been due to bring together more than 100 existing systems belonging to the country’s eight former police forces.
SPA chair Susan Deacon said there was a “clear endorsement of the direction of travel that has been set out before us”.
She said: “On that basis I think we record the fact that this authority, that this board, is content to approve that as a direction of travel moving on to the next stage.
“I think we recognise the huge amount of work that’s been done to get it to this stage and indeed how much more work is required to take it to the next stage.”