Police buying own supplies amid budget cuts

Police officers are being forced to buy their own light bulbs as Scotland's cash-strapped national force seeks to make savings on everything from bin bags to hand soap, it has been claimed.

Picture: TSPL

Calum Steele, general secretary of the Scottish Police Federation, said cuts within Police Scotland had reached “farcical levels”.

He tweeted correspondence from police officers which said cleaners had been told not to empty bins more than once a day to save bin bags and claimed staff were forced to buy their own replacement light bulbs.

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One officer said it cost the force too much to have a company come in to refill hand wash, forcing staff to buy their own or use a “slimy” bar of soap provided.

Mr Steele said: “I get more than enough communication from members and officials detailing the ridiculous extent of the cuts and what they mean in a day-to-day sense.

“The fact that we have police officers having to buy light bulbs is an illustration of just how dire things are.”

Formed in 2013, Police Scotland must make savings totalling £1.1 billion by 2026.

A report presented to the Scottish Police Authority in June showed the force “overspent” its £1.1bn annual budget by £18m in 2015/16.

Last month, the SPF, a staff association which represents the rank and file, claimed officers were being sent to charity shops to buy equipment.

It alleged officers escorting a child in a police car were sent to “scour charity shops” to buy sun blinds to screen the child from public view.

The federation has repeatedly warned that cuts are diminishing the service being offered to the public.

Last week it was claimed the force is at “breaking point” after figures from the Scottish Government showed police officer numbers had fallen to their lowest level since 2010.

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesman Liam McArthur MSP said: “Police bosses rejected claims that rank and file officers had to purchase their own kit. Now it seems that the scale of the problem was understated.

“Police officers encounter all sorts of messy situations so you would have thought basics such as hand wash and sanitiser would always be available.

“We cannot expect officers to do their best work and keep us safe unless they get the support they need.”

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “The service is facing financial challenges and we will continue to engage fully with the staff associations and unions to consider options for a sustainable policing model.”