SNP accused of "policing vandalism" over budget cuts

Humza Yousaf says crime has fallen over the past decade
Humza Yousaf says crime has fallen over the past decade
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Frontline police officers have warned that swingeing cuts to the new national force are an act of "policing vandalism" in a stark letter to the Justice Secretary.

Many officers feel the SNP has “given up” on the force amid concerns over a funding shortfall, according to Calum Steele, general Secretary of the Scottish Police Federation.

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He has described the funding settlement for the single force as “woeful” in a letter to Humza Yousaf and said criticism from officers on the ground was becoming “more vocal and pointed”.

The letter was obtained by the Conservatives through Freedom of Information.

Mr Steel and Mr Yousaf r clashed at SNP conference earlier this month over claims of a £41 million funding shortfall and disputed claims that officers may not be paid next year.

“Your government is increasingly seen as having given up on policing," Mr Steel states in the letter.

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It adds: “We both know the capital allocation is woefully insufficient and will only see the police fleet, estate and general infrastructure decay even further.”

The SNP came to power in 2007 on a pledge to increase police numbers by 1,000 and did. But budgets are falling as the UK Government pledges to recruit 20,000 extra officers.

But Mr Steel adds: "The once triumphant language (on policing) that was a cornerstone of the Scottish Government's messaging was for its first eight years in power is now nowhere to be seen."

However, Mr Yousaf insists budget for Police Scotland is now £1.2 billion and crime has fallen 43% over the past decade.

The SNP minister added that the additional 20,000 officers in England and Wales would "no more than reverse the decline" of recent years.

"We told bold and early action to keep our communities safe in spite of significant pressures," Mr Yousaf adds.

"We invested in the service and supported reform rather than pursuing the model adopted south of the Border."

But Tory justice spokesman Liam Kerr said police officers have reached the "end of their tether" with the SNP government.

“They have been in sole charge of justice for more than 12 years, and in that time the state of the overall justice system has declined considerably despite the best efforts of those dedicated people working in it," he said.

“It’s time the SNP backed our brave, hardworking police officers and ensured they can do their job to the best of their abilities, without being hamstrung by a lousy settlement.”