Sex crime victims forced to relate their 'harrowing ordeal' in damp mouldy police stations
Police stations resemble "toilet scene from Trainspotting", Scottish Police Federation tell Michael Matheson
Rape victims are being interviewed by police in damp stinking rooms with mouldy carpets, leaks, peeling wallpaper and disgusting toilets, a police rank and file representative has warned the Justice Secretary.
Calum Steele, general secretary of the Scottish Police Federation, showed Michael Matheson stark photos of briefing rooms where sex crime victims are taken to relate their “harrowing ordeal” to officers.
In a fringe meeting at the SNP Conference, Steele also compared a lavatory to “the worst toilet in Scotland” portrayed in the movie Transporting, and showed images of police cars held together with cable ties and duct tape.
He said the pictures starkly illustrate “the state or our estate” - and pinned the blame on the former regional police boards which let the police estate fall into repair over decades.
Matheson agreed that the problem was a legacy of the former police structure, and insisted Police Scotland has an estates plan to deal with it.
Steele told SNP delegates: “This will demonstrate quite starkly that we have a genuine crisis coming round the corner as far as our facilities are concerned.”
Pointing to a dilapidated door with peeling paint, he said: “This is the door that your sister, your daughter or your mother could be walking through after they have been the victim of sex crime.
“That is the first thing they see, if they are a victim of sex crime, where they go in to be interviewed and understand the details of what has taken place.
“Imagine the harrowing ordeal you have gone through, and you are now faced with a police service that is tasked with undertaking the most horrific of investigations and that is the first thing you see.
“Inside the room, you have mould on the carpets, damp on the ceilings, water coming in, and the room absolutely stinks of damp.
“That is kind of facilities that we, through no fault of our own, are bringing victims of crime to.
“Imagine for a moment what it must feel like going in there, looking for a professional service.
“That is damp causing mould under the wallpaper for the wallpaper to fall off the walls.
“That is a consequence of chronic underinvestment of capital in the police budget.
“That is the reality of where we are today.
“Every single one of you must be angry about this.”
He also showed a photo of an office with a sign which read: “Beware - Leaking Roof”.
“You’ve got electricity in there, technology, bins and water coming in through the ceilings,” he said. “Can you deliver a professional police service in amongst that?
“We have police vehicles being held together with duct tape and cable ties - that is what is keeping our fleet on the road right now because we have no money, because these wonderful police boards and authorities that were ‘so good’, and everyone praised, neglected our estate and Police Scotland has to deal with it.
“This is not a product of Police Scotland but it’s a Police Scotland response to the reality of the challenges that we are facing.”
Steele has previously warned that police are not provided with hand sanitisers and bin bags at stations.
“I had a picture which was reminiscent of the toilet out of Trainspotting,” he said.
Examining the photos, Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: “They illustrate the chronic under investment that has taken place within the police over many decades and the challenges that will be faced going forward for Police Scotland to try and invest in these areas where they can in order to improve the conditions within these facilities.
“But these are not issues that have just arisen through the creation of Police Scotland.
“They have been there for many, many years and it is going to take time to deal with some of these issues.
“A key part of what has to happen is for the service to prioritise areas where it wants to see that capital investment going into to make sure that it is dealing with the areas that require to be addressed as early as possible.
“There is an estate plan which the service are taking forward, part of which will be to look at some of these areas of investment.
“But these haven’t happened through the creation of Police Scotland. That is through previous lack of investment into the police estate by the former legacy forward that will have to be addressed through Police Scotland.”
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