FMQs: Humza Yousaf is a ‘criminal’s dream’, says Douglas Ross

The Scottish Conservative leader hit out at Mr Yousaf during First Minister’s Questions

Douglas Ross has called Humza Yousaf a “criminal’s dream” as he raised concerns about falling police officer numbers and station closures in Scotland.

The Scottish Conservative leader accused the First Minister of being “sly, sleekit and secretive” about the consequences of police cuts.

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Speaking during First Minister’s Questions in Holyrood, he highlighted a warning this week from Scottish Police Federation general secretary David Kennedy that people could die because of a lack of officers.

Douglas Ross. Picture: Lisa FergusonDouglas Ross. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Douglas Ross. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Mr Yousaf accused Mr Ross of telling “lies”, causing Holyrood’s Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone to rebuke him. She said: “It is wholly inappropriate to suggest that another member of this Parliament has lied and I would be grateful First Minister if you might apologise.”

She asked Mr Yousaf three times for an apology, with the First Minister initially saying he would instead describe Mr Ross’s comments as a “deliberate inaccuracy”. He then said he was “happy to apologise to anybody who has been offended by the post truths that have come from the Conservative Party and anybody who is offended by my remarks”.

Asked a third time by Ms Johnstone to apologise, the First Minister said he would “apologise to the chamber for any offence caused”.

Mr Ross – whose wife is a serving police officer – said police officer numbers “have fallen by more than 700 since the creation of Police Scotland” in April 2013. The national force had 17,496 officers then, but 16,600 at the end of June 2023.

Police in the north east are also piloting an initiative which could see some crimes go investigated by officers.

Mr Ross said: “Humza Yousaf is forcing Police Scotland to close dozens of stations – but he won’t say where. He’s leaving the police with no option but to stop investigating every crime – but he won’t say which crimes. And he’s forcing the police to cut officer numbers to the lowest level on record – but he won’t say how low. For a First Minister that loves the sound of his own voice, it seems quite bizarre that he is silent when it really matters.”

He added: “Humza Yousaf is a criminal’s dream. He doesn’t want them stopped, he doesn’t want them caught, and he doesn’t want them jailed. Why is he being so sly, sleekit and secretive about the consequences of the SNP’s cuts on Police Scotland?”

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Mr Yousaf accused the Tories of being in a “post truth phase”, but added: “Let’s stick to the facts because the facts tell us this – there are more officers per head in Scotland than in Conservative-led England and Labour-led Wales. Crime is down under this Government.”

He added that a recent pay deal means police officers in Scotland are “paid more fairly and are the best paid in the entire UK”.

Mr Yousaf said: “On the substance of the issue in relation to Police Scotland, let me make it clear once again to Douglas Ross that under the SNP-led Scottish Government, we have more bobbies on the beat compared to England and Wales. We have increased funding for Police Scotland by an additional 6.3 per cent in terms of their revenue. And of course what is important to people is ensuring that their communities are safe, and that is why under the SNP-led Scottish Government recorded crime is at one of its lowest level in almost half a century.”



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