Scotland’s neon-green clad officers are currently so broke, they are occasionally forced to rummage through charity shops to find equipment they need.
According to the BBC, General Secretary of the Scottish Police Federation Calum Steele said the Scottish is in “dire financial straits and that the public is being “mislead” in regards to the reality of policing.
Posting on the SPF website, Steele mentioned several instances where funding had affected officers, including when officers wishing to discretely escort a child in a police cruiser were told to hit up the local charity shops to find a sun blind and where K9 teams near the end of their shift were called off a search to prevent overtime from being incurred.
Police Scotland representative Deputy Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick has acknowledged challenges with the current budget, but said that the officers “did not routinely or regularly” make purchases from charity shops.
“Officers do not routinely or regularly purchase items from charity shops to support operational requirements,” Fitzpatrick responded. “On this occasion an officer bought a sun shade – something we do not carry in stock – to protect the identity of a vulnerable witness, a highly commendable action by our officers.”
Fitzpatrick added that “Dog handlers do not automatically stop searching if they are going to occur overtime, they ask for authorization to stay beyond their tour of duty if the search cannot be completed within rostered hours.”
Steele wrote that “General and criminal inquiries are passed from officer to officer to officer, grossly diminishing the care for victims and increasing the likelihood of mistakes being made, evidence being lost and greater costs and abstractions should the issue subsequently progress to court.”
He continued, citing that non-urban communities tend to suffer greatly.
“Rural communities are seeing their police services diminished and access is very much a post code and bank account lottery. Let us not kid on that decisions to send policing responses are firstly judged on need when a budget built on cuts needs to be balanced.”
Fitzpatrick noted that “the Scottish Police Federation rightly recognize[s] there are budget challenges however, public confidence in policing remains strong and we look forward to working with everyone who has an interest in improving the service we provide to our local communities.”
A Scottish government spokeswoman says that police budgets are protected, though she did state that it fell to the police force to decide where and how the money is distributed.
“The Scottish government is committed to protecting the police revenue budget in real terms for the entirety of this parliament, delivering an additional £100m of investment over the next five years, in addition to £55m of reform funding in 2016-17,” she said. “Clearly, it is for [Scottish Public Authority] and Police Scotland to determine the best possible use of the budget according to national and local priorities.”
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