Police civilian staff have taken the brunt of the cuts since the establishment of Police Scotland. Police staff have been subject to centralisation, budget cuts and politically driven targets. The process has been bad for policing.
Scotland needs a modern balanced workforce who can respond to the demands of communities.
Civilian staff do vital skilled jobs. Human resources, pay roll, 999 control centres, mechanics, fingerprint officers, crime analysts, fraud officers, and forensics. Police officers may arrest criminals but its civilian staff who catch them. Our Police officers could not operate without support teams behind the scenes.
UNISON have launched our manifesto for Scottish Policing
The Scottish Government’s policy of maintaining 17234 police officers while making £1.1bn budget cuts by 2026 means it’s these civilian staff posts that go. That’s less skilled people to do the vital work which modern policing needs. And of course we end up with police officers doing jobs they are neither skilled, nor particularly enthusiastic, to carry out. Substituting higher paid police officers for police staff is not ‘best value’ – something Scottish Police Authority has a statutory duty to ensure happens.
The tragedy of the M9 has alerted us all to the impact of centralisation, de-civilianisation and reduction in police staff. However, we continue with control centre closures.
Scotland’s new chief constable says that he is committed to developing a ‘sustainable operating model’ and that he intends to allocate resources to the needs of the community rather than work to targets. It is refreshing to hear this. However despite UNISONs requests no serious research has been carried out into establishing how many officers are needed to police Scotland.
Scottish Police Authority has failed to provide effective oversight for this whole process. They must step up to the mark and engage with staff and listen and include trade union representation on the board to ensure all these issues are thoroughly scrutinised.
To read UNISON Scotland Manifesto for policing: http://www.unison-scotland.org/2016/03/23/a-balanced-workforce-for-policing-that-delivers/