By Bill Heaney
The scale of the SNP government’s failure to provide police officers with ‘basic kit’ has been laid bare by alarming new figures.
A Freedom of Information response to the Scottish Conservatives has revealed that, as of last month, Police Scotland had just 941 Body Worn Video cameras.
This is despite the force requesting last year that up to 11,000 officers have access to the equipment.
Will Kerr, Deputy Chief Constable of Police Scotland, pictured above, recently said that the force was “professionally embarrassed” by the slow roll out of cameras, describing them as “a very basic bit of kit”.
The Scottish Conservatives have attacked the SNP government for failing to give our police the resources they need.
Scottish Conservative Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Jamie Greene MSP, right, said:“This shameful failure to roll out the most basic bit of kit underlines the neglect our police face under the SNP government.
“We know that these cameras would help reduce the court backlog – by increasing the number of guilty pleas – as well as protecting officers and increasing police transparency.
“But despite these clear benefits, the SNP have failed to invest in what the Deputy Chief Constable has rightly described as ‘basic’ equipment.
“The SNP have consistently failed to properly fund our police. First, they cut the capital budget – which these cameras fall under – and now they plan real-terms cuts to the resource budget too. And this at a time when officer numbers are at their lowest level in 14 years.
“Now Scotland faces a massive court backlog and rising violent crime, which our police are having to tackle with one hand tied behind their back.
“The Scottish Conservatives would restore our police with our Local Policing Act, giving officers the equipment they need to fight crime and keep Scotland safe.”
- Police Scotland said more than a year ago they wanted between 10,000-11,000 officers to have access to body-worn technology. Chief Superintendent Matt Richards spoke of the benefits of the technology which could help reduce court backlogs, saying victims would benefit from ‘increased speed and efficiency’ that is provided by the use of body worn cameras. He continued: ‘We know there is a real spike in guilty pleas, which again reduces that congestion in courts.’ He said he wanted ‘between 10,000 and 11,000 frontline officers and staff’ to have access to the technology. (STV News, 31 May 2021, link).
- A senior Police Scotland officer said he’s ‘embarrassed’ that Police Scotland doesn’t have widespread use of this technology. Will Kerr, Deputy Chief Constable of Police Scotland said: ‘It’s going to take another few years to actually be able to introduce body-worn video… We’re professionally embarrassed by that, quite frankly. It’s a very basic bit of kit that has so much operational utility for us… We simply don’t have the money for it. Even the smallest English police forces [are] moving on to second or third-generation body-worn video.’ (The Telegraph, 30 September 2022, link).