By Bill Heaney
Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP, pictured right, has warned that police officers are being run ragged as he revealed that Police Scotland’s overtime bill reached its highest ever level last year.
Figures obtained by the Scottish Liberal Democrats through a freedom of information request [the method which people and organisations are forced to use when public bodies are reluctant to give them the information they are legitimately seeking], show that almost £270 million has been spent on overtime since Police Scotland was established in 2013.
Are Police Scotland value for money? Would you walk after dark from your home to the shops or entertainment venues closest to you? For example, from Garshake, down Round Riding Road, across the Common, under the railway bridge, through the College Street underpass to the Town Centre? Would you feel safe to go for pint or a bag of chips in your home town? Remember, a government’s first duty is to the safety of its citizens. Answers by e mail to The Dumbarton Democrat at firstname.lastname@example.org
Two freedom of information requests from the party to Police Scotland in 2018 and 2023 show:
- £268,855,746 has been spent on officer and staff overtime since the centralised national force was launched in 2013, an average of almost £27 million per year.
- In 2022/23, £44.4 million was spent, the highest level on record, driven by non-core overtime covering “Events, Specific Initiatives/Operations and Mutual Aid provided to English Forces”.
Liam McArthur said: “SNP ministers pushed through the creation of a single national force with the promise of significant cost savings which could be invested elsewhere in the service. Instead we have seen falling officer numbers, police counters closing and officers run ragged.
“There is no doubt that events like COP26 and the Queen’s funeral will have contributed to these enormous figures but with a bill averaging £27 million a year, it’s clear that officers are being asked to go above and beyond far too often.
“We shouldn’t be asking those keeping us safe day-in day-out to work beyond their limits. Past staff surveys have shown they feel the service and its resources are stretched. This will only get worse, if as the departing Chief Constable suggests, officer numbers are cut back further.
“Officers will want to see the new Justice Secretary fight their corner and help to deliver a balanced workforce with fair and safe working conditions.”
Overtime bills for 2016/17 onwards are as follows:
In response to a Scottish Liberal Democrat query, Police Scotland confirmed that the data received was for financial years, i.e. 2023 is the year from 1.4.2022 to 31.3.2023.
They also clarified the definition of core and non-core staff and officers as follows:
Core overtime – Funded by Police Scotland – Business As Usual overtime.
Non-Core Overtime – Funded by third party – Events, Specific Initiatives/Operations, Mutual Aid provided to English Forces etc.
Overtime bills for 2013/14 to 2015/16 are as follows: