POLICE Scotland’s public watchdog has challenged claims by a rank-and-file leader that officers are being sent to charity shops for equipment.
The Scottish Police Authority (SPA) said they “do not recognise” the assertions by Calum Steele, general secretary of the Scottish Police Federation (SPF).
Mr Steele said “cash is king” at Police Scotland and “the public is being misled over the policing realities of today”.
In an article on the SPF website, Mr Steele said: “The Police Service of Scotland is in such dire financial straits that it is sending officers to charity shops to source equipment that you could pick up for a couple of pounds in most supermarkets.”
Officers have been sent to charity shops for car sun blinds to shield children from public view in police cars, he said.
Dog handlers following trails are being replaced mid-search to prevent overtime claims, criminal and general inquiries are passed on through several officers, and rural communities face “a postcode and bank account lottery”, he added.
“The public deserve better than a police service scrambling about in charity shops and treating victims of crime like unwanted wedding presents to be passed on and on, and it’s long overdue that we acknowledge that and did something about it,” he said.
“Cash is king and woe betide anyone who isn’t playing their part in making cuts ... and the public is being misled over the policing realities of today.”
He described official suggestions that Police Scotland is under similar pressures as other services as “poppycock”.
“No doubt many of those who will be asked to comment on this piece will trot out lines about difficult decisions and hard conversations, but who with?
“We will hear about generalities and not specifics, and this is wrong.
“Local concerns will get lost and diminished in a world of corporate speak, and that suits only the suits.”
An SPA spokesman said: “It is a priority for the SPA and Police Scotland that officers are well-equipped for the important day-to-day job they undertake.
“The advent of the single service has allowed necessary equipment for police officers and staff, like uniforms, protective equipment and vehicles, to be procured centrally for the use of officers across the whole country and at best value for the taxpayer.
“The SPA works with Police Scotland to assess the future demands on policing to ensure that every opportunity is taken to support our workforce with the very best training and equipment, making the job easier and more efficient so that they continue to deliver a high-quality service to the public.
“While policing has had a strong financial settlement in the coming year, there remain ongoing financial challenges to address, as there are for every public service, and it is important that all officers and staff play a part in meeting those.
“But we do not recognise these assertions from the SPF.”
Conservative justice spokesman Douglas Ross said: “These are deeply worrying claims by a senior police federation figure and the Scottish Government should now examine them very seriously.”
Liberal Democrat justice spokesman Liam McArthur said: “The idea of officers being sent to charity shops to source essential kit would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious.”