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14 October 2019
Police Scotland 'will not be able to pay wages in February': police union

Scottish Police Federation general secretary Calum Steele. Image credit: Holyrood

Police Scotland 'will not be able to pay wages in February': police union

The Scottish Police Federation (SPF) says Police Scotland is going to “run out of money and not be able to pay wages in February”, and warned Scotland will lose up to 1,000 police officers next year.

Speaking at a SNP conference event in Aberdeen on Monday evening, SPF general secretary Calum Steele put this warning directly to Cabinet Secretary for Justice Humza Yousaf.

Steele said cops were faced with “a cut down in police levels that we haven’t seen since SNP came into power”.

“At this current time, Police Scotland is going to run out of money and not be able to pay wages in February,” he said.

“We are currently spending less than half the money we need each year to spend on our vehicles. You think about the debilitating impact of being a police officer, turning up to work each day and the building around you is crumbling. 

“We deserve better than this.”

Steele compared the amount of capital allocation to Police Scotland as being the same as Shetland Islands Council, and said “there are small county forces in England that are better funded than our police services”.

In response to Steele’s comments around running out of money, Yousaf said it was “an outrageous claim and untrue”.

At one point, Yousef even challenged Steele to a wager: “If police officers aren’t paid in February then should one of us resign?

"Calum would not be doing his job if he was not pressuring the government for more funding, my job in government is to be the person who fights internally in cabinet for the resources,” he said.

Yousaf said police numbers “cannot be reduced” and he did not “foresee that happening”.

Talking through the options available to stop a reduction in police numbers, Yousaf said the Scottish Police Authority [SPA] were currently operating on a deficit and “the SPA have a financial plan over three years to reduce that deficit to zero”.

“That plans needs to be revised, the SPA need to ask us to cover the deficit if they are not going to be able to cover it,” he said.

“I don’t want to go into territory where we are scaring people into thinking that there are less police officers thant there are. I welcome what will be a challenging conversation in policing in the coming months.”

Near the end of the event, Steele continued to push Yousef, and spoke directly to SNP delegates at the event. 

“You know people care about police officers in the community and you know this political speak about a structural deficit is not enough, you have the power to change it, because you are the activists in the party that has the power," he said.

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