UNISON reaction to DCC Neil Richardson’s statement to Scottish Parliament

Date: Tuesday 1 December 2015

UNISON is calling on DCC Neil Richardson to meet with them to discuss his plans for further job cuts after his words at the Justice Committee of 1st December, wherein he stated it would be wrong of him to say there won’t be further reduction in staff.

George McIrvine, UNISON Police Staff Scotland branch secretary said: ”They have no real strategy as to how they are going to achieve this years savings never mind the next 11 years and that’s quite apparent with the current £25 million blackhole. It’s not best value for the public purse and it’s not what the rank and file officers signed up to do.

We now see a civilian staff workforce who have young family, rent, mortgages and debt; they therefore need to work for the foreseeable future. Redundancy is no longer an option to the majority.

Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority will either have to look at making cuts elsewhere to their budget instead of focussing it all on a small percentage of the civilian staff workforce or finally admit they cannot achieve the Scottish Governments efficiency savings. Chief Constables in England & Wales have been spoken out about such unrealistic goals and budget cuts, why can’t Scottish senior police officers do the same?”

DCC Neil Richardson also denied there was any formal policy of backfilling vacant staff jobs with police officers but that the practice does occur as UNISON has often said in the past. He states that this was not a planned approach and yet some may ask why it has to occur at all, if a job still needs done why is the staff member leaving on voluntary redundancy?

Civilian staff have been cut by 2,243 since 2010 – that’s over 1 in 4 police staff jobs already been cut by 2010 – and many of the posts are just backfilled by more expensive police officers.

UNISON feels it is past time for the senior leadership of Police Scotland to recognise that to keep people safe a realistic and achievable plan engaging all key stakeholders is needed and it is incumbent upon the next Chief Constable to make that happen. UNISON has said it is willing to work with him to keep people safe.



  1. UNISON is biggest union in Police Scotland, representing police staff across Scotland. UNISON is the biggest union in Scotland
  2. DCC Richardsom said at Justice Committee this morning re civilian staff. He was giving evidence police budget and upcoming Scot Gov budget. Richardson denied there was a formal “policy” of officers filling in for lost civilian staff. But he said: “If you want to describe backfilling as police officers fulfilling staff officer functions then yes that is happening. “But it’s not happening as a planned approach in order to, as I think the question was heading towards, are we seeking to exit as many support staff as possible … that’s not the case
  3. DCC also said “However, we are living in a world where savings have got to be made and it would be wrong for me to say there won’t be further reductions in staff.”What I can’t say at the moment is the numbers involved. We are actively working through plans to look at how we can best balance the budget.  “And again, depending on what the settlement looks like, when that becomes apparent, we will be in a better position to determine what the size and scale of the organisation is.”
  4. Civilian staff numbers (end of year)
  • 2010 – 7862 (peak, March)
  • 2011 – 6957
  • 2012 – 6885
  • 2013 – 6170
  • 2014 – 5619