The STUC will vigorously oppose Scottish Government plans to absorb the specialist British Transport Police (BTP) into Police Scotland and delegates were dismayed that the announcement of these plans was made without any public consultation.
Supporting an emergency motion from the RMT, George McIrvine of UNISON Scotland’s Police Branch told delegates that although there have been rumours that this merger was on the Scottish Government’s radar over a year ago there has been no acknowledgement of this by Justice Secretary Michael Matheson, the SPA or indeed the Chief Constable.
He added, “It would be fair to say that since the merger of policing in Scotland two years ago, ironically on April Fools day, this Scottish Government has presided over a ‘polishambles’ that seems to attract unwanted attention on a daily basis from local and national media, politicians and the public alike.”
George detailed the very many concerns since the merger of local police forces into Police Scotland: “We have witnessed a wholesale shambolic centralisation programme that has led to the closure of local police stations and control rooms which has directly impacted on service delivery to local people, local jobs and the local economy all in the name of efficiencies.
“The comedy stop and search performance whereby officers were pressured into stopping children and law abiding citizens just to meet targets set by senior management. Ultimately leading to the chief constable and his cohorts misleading parliament when eventually challenged.
“The outdated and farcical manifesto pledge of 1000 extra cops on the beat who are now perversely backfilling the duties of the civilian workforce that have been made redundant in order that they can provide some kind of patchwork service to the public.”
George warned, “This leads me to think now, why the Scottish Government don’t want to consult but to do a landgrab of 200 officers that will fill a black hole of much needed resources.
“In effect these new officers will be absorbed into core shifts and duties in local policing.”
He added that the current UK structure for control rooms for BTP is Birmingham and London.
“The concern for our members is clear, primarily in control rooms, as civilian workers who are greatly understaffed, overworked and under pressure to perform. These moves will inevitably bring about an increase in calls to an already overburdened workforce.”
He promised that UNISON Scotland will be demanding consultation within our own structures with SPA and Police Scotland.
“The reality is, just like the chaos we have all seen in the media with deploying specialised firearm cops to do beat duties, we will see these 200 BTP officers carrying out a multitude of other duties like routine patrols whilst a cop, who will never have dealt with any aspect of criminality on the railways will be sent to an incident there.
“It looks like another episode of the continued saga of the ‘polishambles’ will continue for some time to come……..
George said: “It looks like this Scottish Government, SPA and the Chief Constable all continue to be a law unto themselves!”