Nearly £250m needed to bring Police Scotland buildings up to scratch, force warns

Nearly a quarter of a billion pounds is needed to bring Police Scotland’s estate up to a “reasonable condition” over the next decade, the force’s chief financial officer has warned.

James Gray said the initial findings of a survey of hundreds of buildings across the country showed that the force’s property portfolio was in a “pretty poor condition.”

Several buildings, he said, have been partly shut down due to their state of disrepair, with some not even wind or watertight.

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Appearing before Holyrood’s criminal justice committee, said £242 million worth of works would be required over the next ten years simply in order to bring the estate up to what the force classifies as ‘condition B’.

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“We’re not looking to gold plate it,” he explained. “We’re just looking to have buildings that are in a reasonable condition.”

Mr Gray said the condition of the police estate was “somewhere similar” to that of Scotland’s schools prior to the £1.8 billion Schools for the Future capital programme, which has constructed or refurbished 117 buildings across the country.

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“It’s in pretty poor condition,” he said. “We’re not looking to have everything shiny and new, we’re just looking to not have mould on the carpets, or parts of the buildings that aren’t wind and watertight.

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James Gray, Police Scotland's chief financial officer, said the force's estate was in a "pretty poor" condition.

“Because we do have buildings that are not wind or watertight, where parts of them have had to be shut down.”

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The committee heard that the force is looking to alleviate “significant costs” by revisiting its estate and fleet strategies.

The former will see the force increasingly share office facilities with other public sector organisations, such as local authorities and Scottish Fire & Rescue. The “co-located model,” said Mr Gray, would be pursued “wherever possible,” with the potential for “many millions of pounds” in savings.

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The force also aims to move towards an electric fleet, saving millions from its annual fuel bill, which currently stands at £8m, and reducing the need for garages and mechanics.

“Our petrol and diesel cars are just getting older and older,” Mr Gray said. “We’ve been trying to break out of that cycle. I walked down the Royal Mile today and passed an eight year-old police car - we really shouldn’t be having cars of that age. The cost of maintaining them is significant.”

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Mr Gray and David Page, Police Scotland’s deputy chief officer, were also questioned by MSPs on the financial impact to the force of the upcoming COP26 summit in Glasgow.

Mr Gray said the projected costs were changing “day to day,” and said that given the likes of overtime costs will not become clear until after the event is concluded, it would be “confusing” to cite a definitive cost in advance.

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But he added: “It’s not as much as £250m is my understanding, but it’s upwards of £150m.”

He also said the force had received assurances from the UK government that the summit - the largest gathering of its kind in UK history - would have “no financial detriment to the policing budget in Scotland,” with Police Scotland compensated for the full cost of its operations.

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