Following last week’s Courier exclusive, I raised the issue of Police morale during Justice Questions in Parliament.
According to a Fife whistleblower morale amongst the force is “dreadful” and the number of officers able to respond to concerns had been “decimated”.
Police Scotland have admitted that their budget is “challenging”. This follows a summer of concerning newspaper stories regarding the impact the budget is having on resources and local policing
Disappointingly the Scottish Government has yet to acknowledge the impact their budget is having on Police Scotland’s ability to keep our communities and the public safe.
You can read the full exchange below:
Claire Baker (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Lab): Last week, The Courier reported that a police whistleblower has said that morale among officers in Fife is “dreadful” and that the number of staff who can respond to incidents has been “decimated”. It also reported concerns that the force came close to not being able to pay salaries in recent months.
The attitude so far to concerns that have been raised has not been good enough. Does the cabinet secretary recognise serving officers’ claims? Those officers are dedicated to the force but are working in increasingly difficult circumstances. How will the Government respond to the continuing concerns over the police budget?
The Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Michael Matheson: Let me deal with the salary issue. Police Scotland’s response to the issue was very clear when it stated that the claims are “untrue”. That is pretty unequivocal. The member may choose not to accept that, but that is the reality of what Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority have said. The suggestion is simply not true.
On the morale issue, the member will be aware that Police Scotland conducted its first staff survey in order to establish a baseline for a range of concerns, including how the service responds to issues that serving officers raise, and to look at how it could improve on that. The Scottish Police Authority stated that it would take forward an action plan to address such issues where it saw that there was room for further improvement. Over the next two years, the SPA, along with Police Scotland, will take that work forward.
The police have also said that they will undertake dip sampling. During the year, they will sample a number of officers to see whether, in specific areas, the measures that are being taken are addressing the concerns and issues that have been raised. There is on-going work to address those issues.
I do not dispute the fact that some officers might not be happy with how things are going in the area in which they operate. That would be the case in any big organisation of any nature and particularly in an organisation that has undergone significant change, as has happened with the Police Service of Scotland. Equally, I can assure the member that Police Scotland and the SPA are committed to addressing issues as and when they are raised. Their approach is to ask officers for their views on how the service is performing and then to consider how they can address the issues that have been highlighted as part of the staff survey.