New police service set to fail on Best Value if no progress on modern police teams

Date: Wed 6 March 2013

Scotland’s new police service is set to fall significantly behind England & Wales in best practice for modern policing, failing its Best Value duty.

That is the warning today from UNISON as a new report revealed that the numbers of police staff in Scotland have fallen by 11%, with further job losses predicted, while police officer numbers are maintained.

The report shows clear benefits in having a modern balanced police team but Scotland is instead cutting police staff and using police officers to backfill their posts at great cost.

Currently police staff make up 24% of all police personnel but predicted cuts in moving to a national police service could reduce that to 18%, in comparison to almost double that at 34% in England & Wales.

George McIrvine, Secretary of UNISON Police Staff Scotland, said: “We welcome this report in showing how important it is that the new force gets it right on police staff. They are getting it very wrong just now and could fail their Best Value duty without a change of direction.

“We have said all along that we need a modern balanced police team with the right people doing the right jobs for a better safer Scotland. The Scottish Government should resource the new police service to provide that and abandon their policy of maintaining police officer numbers at 17,234, which forces all the cuts onto police staff.”

Dave Watson, Head of Bargaining & Campaigns, will present an updated Stewart report on police civilianisation commissioned by UNISON Scotland at the Scottish Parliament this evening. (Wednesday)

He said: “Police staff do an incredibly important job in roles from corporate and admin support to functions such as intelligence, crime prevention, custody and detention and scenes of crime officers.

“It makes no financial sense to have police officers backfilling these posts. There are many police functions where properly qualified civilian personnel are simply the most effective way to deliver the full range of routine, complex and specialised functions that are central to modern day police forces.”

Scottish Labour’s justice spokesman Lewis Macdonald MSP welcomed the report, saying:

“This report clearly indicates that civilian police staff are paying the price for the SNP’s reckless approach to setting up a single police service.

“Hundreds of trained and experienced civilian workers have already lost their jobs, with thousands more redundancies expected after the launch of Police Scotland on April1. As the report states, the only option Police Scotland has to fill these gaps is to use police officers to backfill roles usually carried out by police staff.

“Our communities don’t want to see police officers spending their time working in offices, control rooms and custody suites when they could be out on the streets fighting crime. The civilianisation of police in Scotland has always been a valuable tool in supporting police officers, but the SNP’s approach is destroying this delicate balance.”


For information please contact:
George McIrvine, Secretary of UNISON Police Staff Scotland, on 07842 542 677
Dave Watson, Head of Bargaining and Campaigns, 07958 122 409
Malcolm Burns, Communications Officer, 0141 342 2877 or 07876 566 978
Fiona Montgomery, Communications Officer, 0141 342 2877 or 07508 877 000
Notes to Editors

1. The report will be available online for the 6pm launch tonight of the Civilianisation of Police in Scotland Updated Stewart Report.

2. Documents giving UNISON’s analysis of the police reform process and our ongoing campaign for a balanced, modern police force – rather than cutting thousands of police staff jobs – are available on our website: For more information see UNISON’s police pages

3. The event in the Scottish Parliament is hosted by Lewis Macdonald MSP.

4. Section 37 of the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 places a Best Value duty on the Scottish Police Authority and the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Scotland..