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Budget leaves force 'at the mercy of local authorities' says Federation

Scotland’s police officers have warned next year's budget won’t cover the repair of leaking buildings or replacing their worn out vehicle fleet.

The Scottish Police Federation has warned members of the Scottish Parliament that officers are working in dilapidated buildings, driving worn-out vehicles and using outdated IT equipment due to chronic underfunding.

The federation’s analysis of budget plans proposed by the Scottish government concluded that despite a £37m increase in funding, Police Scotland will not have enough to replace equipment. It also warned that the force will be heavily reliant on local authority funding to pay officers.

It followed the revelation by Police Scotland in its budget submission to the Scottish Police Authority that it is facing a £49m deficit.

The Federation claimed a quarter of Police Scotland buildings are in poor condition, half the vehicle fleet is operating beyond its replacement criteria and IT systems are long out of date.

It calculated that the force needs £300m to clear the repair backlog to its estate and £85m a year to modernise buildings, buy new vehicles and provide officers with vital equipment such as body worn cameras.

The SPF described the £37m increase as “treading water”.

David Hamilton, Vice Chair of the Scottish Police Federation told Police Oracle: “It’s not enough in terms of getting us out of the hole we’re in. We can’t carry on like this. The money that’s been given out so far is better than we started but even that has been ringfenced.”

He called for a rethink on what money should be spent on: “We’ve been given £5m for electric vehicles but they won’t give us the money for their chargers. There are some more pressing priorities. That’s money that should be spent on policing to get a more sustainable model. Even modern buildings are beginning to leak.”

The Federation has also called on the Justice Committee to investigate and get an explanation about exactly how Police Scotland is being funded.

The SPF submission to the committee said: “That deficit is being paid for somewhere and it is abundantly clear the only place it can be funded is by way of a loan from the Scottish Government.”

It revealed currently local authorities are funding 300 officers but their budgets are also under pressure meaning their contribution is just over £13.5m.

The SPF submission said: “The service is at the mercy of Local Authorities for the continued funding… and we see no reason to be optimistic that this downward trend is not likely to continue.”

The Scottish Police Authority has already warned that the force is now at the point where it needs investment in order to generate efficiency as the limit of savings generated by creating one force for Scotland has now been reached.

The Scottish Government has said that its plans for a 3.6 per% increase in budget to more than £1.2bn meant officer numbers and the police estate could be maintained.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: "Despite cuts to Scotland's overall budget through a decade of UK austerity, the Scottish Government has ensured policing services have been maintained and improved.”

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