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Police Scotland halts body camera roll out due to £49m deficit

Police Scotland will not equip officers with body worn cameras and only some will get mobile devices because of its £49m deficit.

Police Scotland’s senior team is facing a crunch meeting on Wednesday with its police authority and the Scottish government to agree a budget for the coming financial year. Despite a £37m cash injection from the Scottish Government, it will still be grappling with a £49m deficit.

As a result, critical new equipment won’t be rolled out for officers as part of cost-saving measures.

The force said in its submission: “We will only be able to issue mobile devices (smart phones) to some of our officers, nor will we be able to commence the work to equip Police Scotland officers with Body Worn Video (BWV). This equipment, which is basic equipment issued to officers in England and Wales, was one of the key recommendations made by Dame Elish Angiolini’s independent review into complaints handling.”

The impact of the deficit will also hit other areas.

It added: "There will be less than half the level of funding required tomaintain the policing estate at its current low level, so further deterioration and failure can be expected in 2020/21."

The Scottish Police Authority (SPA) warned that options for finding significant savings are gone now that the mergers of Scottish forces that created the force have been completed.

The proposed revenue budget requirement for 2019/20 is £1,136.7m.

The force has been hit by reductions in revenue funding from both central and local government plus an increase in officer numbers which, according to the SPA have “significantly outpaced” the delivery of planned savings.

Outdated IT systems are now also at the end of their lifecycle s money must be found to fund capital costs of £244m plus £54m of reform costs.

Police Scotland revealed in its submission that is waiting to hear from HM Treasury if it will get additional money to cover the cost of Brexit and is waiting for sign off by the UK government for the projected £250m costs of policing the UN climate conference COP26 in November.

The force also warned that its current capital allocation is amongst the lowest in UK policing on a per capita basis and is low compared to other public bodies in Scotland.

Police Scotland said in its statement: “We are disappointed that, the 2020/21 draft budget continues the long term trend of Police Scotland being structurally underfunded.

The SPA said in its report: “The Scottish Government is aware of this budgetary position and that the Authority is working to a three year plan to deliver financial sustainability as part of the Policing 2026 portfolio of transformation and modernisation.

“As a result, the Scottish Government will provide appropriate wording in the budget allocation letter, supporting efforts to minimise costs pressures and manage the gap down as far as possible whilst assisting in mitigating wholly unavoidable costs through management of budgets across Scottish Government.”

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