First Minister Humza Yousaf and Pauline McNeill, Labour Justice spokesperson.
By Bill Heaney
The SNP must give police and fire services a fair deal in the upcoming budget, Scottish Labour has said today following evidence at the Criminal Justice Committee.
Today the committee heard stark warnings from police and fire services ahead of the Scottish Government’s upcoming budget.
MSPs were told that the police are currently being forced to make £18.9 million of additional savings between August and March alone to balance the books this financial year.
Among other things, their budget pressures are being dealt with by cutting officer numbers and seeking to close 30 police stations.
Police Scotland warned that they were “going to have to take a lot of pain” and that the changes required are “going to impact on our ability to respond.”
Police Scotland and Fire and Rescue Service threatened with swingeing budget cuts.
They refused to rule out expanding the controversial pilot currently taking place in the North East, whereby some crimes are not investigated. This was attributed to a lack of resources.
Humza Yousaf’s pledge to roll out body cams for police officers has also been left in tatters, with Police Scotland’s deputy chief saying that budget pressures mean he cannot guarantee they will be rolled out this year.
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has had to make £11 million of savings in this financial year and expect to have to make more cuts based on the Scottish Government’s current plans.
They are warning that if further savings are expected next year they will have to cut firefighter numbers and reduce the number of fire appliances, such as fire trucks.
They warned of risks posed by further cuts, stating that “we would not be able to reduce resources of that magnitude without there being an impact upon response times and, ultimately, safety and risk within communities”.
Commenting, Scottish Labour Justice spokesperson Pauline McNeill said “If the SNP do not listen to the shocking evidence the Criminal Justice Committee heard this morning, they will be presiding over devastating police officer and staff cuts and undermining the ability of our Police and Fire Services to keep our communities safe.
“It is unacceptable that Humza Yousaf cannot even keep his own promises to roll out police bodycams, leaving Scotland behind the rest of the country.
“The SNP must listen to these stark warnings and act now to address this turmoil.”