Police Scotland facing £21 million '˜overspend'

Police Scotland expects to 'overspend' its budget by more than £20m in the current financial year, new figures show.

Picture: John Devlin/TSPL
Picture: John Devlin/TSPL

Details provided to the Scottish Police Authority today show the force is predicted to exceed its £1.1bn budget by £21m in 2016/17.

With a underspend of £9.6m predicted for the smaller capital budget, the total forecast deficit is £11.5m for the year.

Set up with the aim of saving a total of £1.1bn by 2026, Police Scotland is facing mounting financial challenges.

Yesterday, the Scottish Police Federation (SPF) warned officers are having to supply their own light bulbs and hand soap amid “farcical” cost-cutting measures.

In a report published this morning, the SPA’s interim chief financial officer James Gray said: “The main reasons for the forecast revenue overspend are a combination of overspends against budget on both police officer and police staff costs, which is now being managed down, as well as an overspend on non-pay costs as a result of not being able to realise the level of savings that had been targeted from these budgets.

“A significant exercise had been undertaken by Police Scotland to analyse all non-pay budgets on a line-by-line basis to identify where quick savings could be delivered. This has resulted in £5m of savings being identified, which has been factored into the forecast outturn.”

Scottish Labour’s justice spokeswoman, Claire Baker, said: “Before the election the SNP promised to protect the police budget, today the accounts show that to be nothing more than a pre-election soundbite.

“Police Scotland aren’t able to invest in capital and infrastructure because they aren’t getting the resources they need from the SNP government to pay for staff and officers. No wonder officer levels are at their lowest since 2010 whilst civilian staff posts have been slashed.

“Police officers and staff work hard every single day to keep people safe but they are being let down by a government who won’t give them the resources they need.”

Lib Dem justice spokesman Liam McArthur added: “These papers suggest that officers and staff could soon be in the firing line unless the Scottish Government admits its savings targets are impossible.

“Barely a day goes by without reports of the harm caused by the SNP’s centralisation of the police, from officers paying for cleaning products out of their own pocket to the loss of valuable services such as local control rooms. The national force is being squeezed until the pips squeak.”