Funding has failed to keep pace with the growing demand on the force
Rapes on the rise and more crime remaining unsolved in SNP’s skint and lawless Scotland
By Bill Heaney
The Scottish Police Federation has warned that Police Scotland is taking officers off the beat to deal with an increasing number of “private space” offences such as cybercrime.
The outgoing boss of the police union, David Hamilton, called for a complete review of policing practices as he warned that funding has failed to keep pace with the growing demand on the force.
The top cop said that Police Scotland did not have enough officers to respond to every report of “low level” crime such as housebreaking.
It follows reports that more than 18,000 incidents of house break-ins that occurred in the past five years were not investigated by police and that officers failed to attend one in four house breakings in Scotland, last year.
Mr Hamilton told The Times: “The most vulnerable people should always get a police response. That will be the number one thing. But if, say, you had been away for three weeks in Italy and came back to find your shed broken into, in the old days we’d send someone round immediately because that’s a house-breaking.
“What we would do now is say, ‘OK, when did it happen? Are there any forensic possibilities?’ If not, there’s not a lot we can do. So we would make an appointment and talk to people in the neighbourhood.”
He claimed that there were “simply not the resources and sometimes there is no coverage at all for community policing in some rural areas which he believes is “fundamental”.
His remarks follow Sir Iain Livingstone’s warning that the policing in Scotland will become “unsustainable in the long term” due to underfunding.
He added: “There are counties in England that are better financed than the whole of Police Scotland. We are moving to what I would call private-space policing. That is involvement in public protection, domestic abuse, cybercrime, investigating historic sexual crime and monitoring sex offenders. These bring new challenges.
“None of that is seen as day-to-day policing because these people are not in uniform. The net result is much of policing is unseen there are fewer officers in uniform on the beat.”
The departing union boss, added: “We have cut community policing so much and centralised operations more. Police are just responding to emergencies rather than having that engagement with communities. It’s a loss, chatting to folk also provides valuable intelligence.”
In Scotland, trade unions warned that the nation was facing £74 million in cuts to police funding. While, public service union, Unison said about 230 staff members could lose their jobs as the call on ministers to reconsider “draconian” measures putting the public at risk.
Jobs affected will include forensic examiners, 999 call handlers, fingerprint experts custody staff, high-speed driving instructors, cybercrime experts and human resources staff.