Claim that loss of civilian staff is placing heavy burden on Police

Police being diverted to admin work.
Police being diverted to admin work.

POLICE IN MORAY are increasingly being diverted from frontline duties to undertake work that was previously the domain of civilian support staff.

Regional MSP David Stewart has obtained details from a Freedom of Information request that indicates a greater number of officers are undertaking support duties since the establishment of Police Scotland.

Mr Stewart said: “We all know and have read about the ‘cull’ of Police Support Staff, which is still ongoing.

“We also know that Police Support Staff were targeted specifically because the SNP Government made it clear they wanted to retain their 1000 extra bobbies on the beat on top of what was the establishment Police Officer level. However, they also set a target of financial savings of £1.2billion by 2026.”

“We knew the ‘cuts’ had to come to achieve this target and the only place they could wield the axe was amongst the valued Police Support Staff. We know that by the end of the financial year 2013/14, 667 applications for voluntary redundancy amongst Police Staff had been approved, of which 86% had been accepted, with hundreds more waiting to see if they were losing their jobs.”

Mr Stewart said that from the responses received and other information passed on there were no longer any legal documents officers employed with the North East division – previously there had been a total of ten people employed by the Grampian Division prior to Police Scotland being established.

He added that he enquired on the number of firearms licensing field enquiry officers were employed in the North East Division, establishing that in April 2013 that was ten, but now the figure is just two.

The MSP said: “So we have our hard pressed and overworked front line bobbies, who despite all the ‘cuts’ and extra work placed upon them now also carry out yet another role that they stopped doing in the 80’s. That was because this Government forced Police Scotland to change and amalgamate into one Force from eight without proper planning, foresight or consideration for the Forces most valuable asset – it’s staff.

“There was far too much emphasis on cost cutting and with the SNP Government insisting that these 1000 extra bobbies be retained, the only place left for Police Scotland to ‘cut’ was Support Staff. This is yet another example of the retrograde step Policing has had to take in Scotland thanks to the Governments desire to amalgamate all forces into one within 18 months.

“There can be no denying now that Police Officers are doing and will continue to do the work previously carried out by civilian Support Staff.

“Support Staff were a valued asset of our Police and brought to Policing a high standard of professionalism which then allowed operational Officers to concentrate on their main roles. With the demise of Police Support Staff in Scotland, the burden of much of the non-operational roles is now falling to the frontline Police Officer who has more and more to do.

“It would be a fair to assume if this is happening in one Division, it is highly likely happening across Police Scotland.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Scottish Police Authority and Police Scotland are working on a long-term strategy for a flexible, modern and sustainable police service, building on the recently published strategic policing priorities.”