One in three civilian jobs to go in Scots police merger
By Keith Aitken in Edinburgh | 27 January 2012
More than 2,000 police support jobs face the axe in the
coming year, ahead of reform of Scotland’s eight regional forces into a single
national police service.
The cuts, a third of all civilian police staff, come on top
of around 1,000 job losses already implemented in the past year in Scottish
police back offices.
Staff unions will ballot members on industrial action, and
the figures have prompted renewed warnings from police representative bodies
that they will not accept front-line officers taking on extra administrative burdens
to make up the shortfall.
Dave Watson, Scottish campaigns head for Unison, said: ‘Cutting
2,000 police staff would take policing in Scotland back to the 1970s. It would
be like Life on Mars, a cop show set
in a time warp – but in fact, not in fiction.
‘Unison has consistently warned of the danger of cutting police staff. It makes
no economic or policing sense – it simply means that important support and
expert jobs are increasingly done by police officers.’
The Scottish Government insists that no substitution will be
necessary, and Chief Constable Kevin Smith, president of the Association of
Chief Police Officers of Scotland, said: ‘We are absolutely determined not to
bring police officers off the street to fill staff roles.’
Ministers estimate that ending duplication in functions like
human resources will save £40m a year. They expect restructuring to cost £234m
over five years, but to deliver savings of £351m. Taken together with a parallel
merger of the eight regional fire and rescue services, the reforms are
projected to save £1.7bn over 15 years.
But the scope for savings is qualified by two ministerial
undertakings: to avoid compulsory redundancies in the public sector, and to
preserve police numbers at the current level of just over 17,200.
Bodies like CIPFA and the Convention of Scottish Local
Authorities have also warned that public sector restructuring has a way of throwing
up unforeseen costs.
CIPFA and the Scottish Local Authorities Chief Internal
Auditors Group have called for the reforms to be phased in, with the new
structure shadowing the old boards for a year.