Police officers in Scotland ‘at risk’ from parking levy

An "explosive" letter from police representatives setting out the potential dangers faced by officers from a proposed car parking tax has been released through Freedom of Information.

Scots workers could be charged for parking at work
Scots workers could be charged for parking at work

The warning, penned by Scottish Police Federation (SPF) general secretary Calum Steele, details the feared impact on officers of the plan to allow local councils to implement a workplace parking levy.

Ministers initially refused to release the correspondence but it has been made public after an appeal by the Scottish Tories.

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The SPF has already raised concerns about the impact of the parking levy on officers, but the letter sets these out in stark terms.

"The current terrorism threat assessment is severe with a specific severe threat identified against police officers," Mr Steele states.

"In response to this threat police officers are advised not to travel to work in visible uniform. I would welcome your views on how this ought to be managed if they are to be penalised for seeking to keep themselves safe by travelling to work by car.”

He added: “Police officers can also be targeted by those they come into conflict with during their tour of duty. The likelihood of officers themselves being targeted increases exponentially if they are forced to take public transport (along fixed routes and at fixed times) to and from their places of work. This also increases the likelihood of the targeting of their homes.”

And he concluded: “In any event any expectation this ought to be met from a depleted service budget is as iniquitous as any suggestion police officers should have to pay for the dubious privilege of putting themselves in harm’s way to keep the citizens of Scotland safe.”

The Scottish Government initially had not released the letter, saying it was protected because it contained “free and frank advice and exchange of views”.

But that has been over-ruled after officials stated “a different decision should be substituted”.

NHS workers won't pay the levy, but demands from teachers and police for a similar exemption have been rejected by MSPs.

Tory justice spokesman Liam Kerr said: “Police officers are just one of many groups who are vehemently opposed to the SNP’s car park tax plans. But this explosive letter shows not only their anger about it, but the very real risks they will face as a consequence.

"These brave men and women put themselves in the line of fire every single day so Scotland can remain a safe, civilised country. Yet the SNP wants to make it more difficult for them to do this with these ludicrous proposals."

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson says in response to Mr Steele that it will be down to councils to decide if they implement a parking levy.

"There is is no question of councils being required to adopt a workplace parking levy, it will be a matter for local councils to consider in light of local circumstances" he stated.

"Any impact would would depend on how a scheme is introduced at a local level by local authorities using these discretionary powers."