Scottish Government warned over ‘huge’ Police Scotland budget shortfall
Police Scotland faces an underlying deficit of £24.6m, according to a report lodged before the meeting of the Scottish Police Authority today.
The paper warns that funding from the Scottish Government for the unified force has been far less than anticipated, creating “operational risk”.
It also warns that the force is facing additional in-year costs associated with Brexit of £17m, the equivalent of 400 police officers.
It total, the SPA papers reveal a £56.2m gap between proposed capital spending and Police Scotland funding.
The budget comes “at a time of political uncertainty and against the backdrop of a challenging fiscal environment,” it said.
SPA chief executive Hugh Grover said: “In line with the Chief Constable’s planning assumptions to cover the potential impact of Brexit-related events, officer numbers have not been reduced as previously forecast and an additional 100 officers are being recruited.
“This puts a potential £17m of pressure onto the budget and the deficit will increase accordingly unless additional funding is provided.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said police budgets were being protected in real terms.
“We are very clear that any costs related to Brexit should not impact on Scotland’s public finances and should be met by the UK Government in full. It is abundantly clear that Brexit is going to cost Scotland more than the consequentials delivered by Westminster.”
Labour Justice Spokesperson Daniel Johnson said: “Police put their personal well-being on the line every day to keep people safe, they need to be well resourced, equipped and supported to carry out that job.
“Instead, Police Scotland is facing a massive funding shortfall in the capital budget. That translates to police stations, cars and IT infrastructure.
“The SNP pledged to protect the police budget in real terms, instead ministers are short changing our police officers and our communities that they are there to protect.”