Scottish police staff are ‘brunt of perverse game of control’- UNISON

Police staff union UNISON has criticised ‘insulting’ comments made by Vic Emery, the chair of the Scottish Police Authority today (Tuesday 27 November) in his dispute with Chief Constable, Stephen House regarding the overall direction and control of police staff in the new single service.

During a session of the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee, the SPA Chair commented that “police staff will always be employed by the SPA… they are ‘just’ staff until I and the SPA Board hand them over to the police services of Scotland”.

George McIrvine, Chair of UNISON’s Scottish Police Staff Committee said:
“Yet again we see police staff being the brunt of a perverse game of who controls us in the new service. It is disturbing to think that Mr Emery describes police staff as ‘just plain staff’ until he and the SPA hand over direction and control to the police service, and only then will they be ‘police staff’.

“It is an insult to us all, as we have always been police staff and we will remain police staff, loyal and committed.”

UNISON police staff have also noted the assurance given that there will be resolution “by the end of the year” on issues of governance as well as a voluntary redundancy package that will cover the whole of Scotland. The SPA are due to meet formally on 5 December to ratify – but police staff have not been involved in any consultations or negotiations.

George McIrvine said:
“Today has left police staff in Scotland with more questions than answers to our future – while those at the top huff and puff their way to the single police service which is due to start in April.

“We have also noted that both Mr Emery and Mr House have taken commercial legal advice around their remit within the Act which transpires was paid for from the public purse. UNISON would challenge if this is best value of taxpayers’ money”.


Notes for editors

1. UNISON represents police staff across Scotland. Police staff deliver a wide range of services including complex and specialised functions that are central to modern day police forces, while allowing uniformed officers to concentrate on their operational policing duties.

2. Police staff are not just ‘staff’ until the Scottish Police Authority hands them over. They have a defined legal status in the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 (s26-30) and transfer under the Act with that status.

3. Up to three thousand police staff across Scotland face losing their jobs as a result of Scottish government commitment to budget savings for the new police service while at the same time maintaining police officer numbers at the current level of 17,234.

4. 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

For further information please contact:
George McIrvine, chair of UNISON’s Scottish Police Committee, on 07842 542677
Dave Watson, Head of Bargaining and Campaigns, UNISON Scotland, on 07958 122 409
Malcolm Burns, Communications Officer, UNISON Scotland, 0141 342 2877 or 078765 66978