MacAskill defends police numbers record
May 19, 2010 No Comments
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has issued a robust defence against accusations that his government had attempted to influence senior police on budget matters.
Recent media reports have claimed that Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill and senior civil servants told a meeting of chief constables cutbacks should be delayed until after autumn so they could be blamed on Westminster spending cuts and that chief officers were told that funding could be withheld unless forces continued to work towards meeting the SNP Government’s target of 1000 new police officers.
In an emergency statement to Parliament, MacAskill said:
“Let me be clear – this government is providing the costs of recruitment, training, and salaries of the 1,000 extra officers. Extra funding specifically to recruit 1,000 extra officers. It should not be used for any other purpose. That has always been our position.
“It was the position we laid out in each budget passed by this Parliament. It is the position I laid out in public; it is the position I laid out in private; and, it is the position I laid out when I met Chief Constables on 18th January.
“My message to them was simple: we have provided the funding needed to recruit 1,000 additional officers. It should be used to recruit the 1,000 officers we pledged to deliver. At that meeting, Chief Constables also shared their concerns over future budgets. They have heard the dire warnings coming from UK parties of cuts to come and, like me, they are worried.
“We have already had to live with cuts of over £500m. We have the Chancellor’s £6bn cuts programme being announced on Monday; we have the emergency Budget on 22 June and we have the Comprehensive Spending Review in the autumn. Decisions on the future size of the budget for the police in Scotland will be taken once we know the scale of the Westminster cuts and the effect that has on the overall size of the Scottish Budget.
“I appreciate the efforts made by police forces in meeting and exceeding Efficient Government targets in recent years. It is now more important than ever that all opportunities for efficiency are taken and that any waste or duplication is removed. That is why the Scottish Policing Board is working closely with ACPOS in developing the efficiency agenda. While we are planning budget stability in 2010/11 with no further cuts in this financial year, we do not yet know what will be delivered for future years by the Westminster Government.”
Chief Constable Patrick Shearer, speaking on behalf of ACPOS, said of the meeting:
“Among issues discussed was the Government’s funding of one thousand additional officers for Scotland. While the Scottish Government has provided full funding for these officers, it is fair to say that Chief Officers are concerned about the sustainability of these numbers in light of the anticipated budget cuts across all public services, arising out of the global financial situation.”