There are “hard choices” ahead in order to deliver effective policing in Scotland with the funding currently available, the country’s chief constable has warned.
Sir Iain Livingstone said that the revenue budget for Police Scotland is “significantly lower” than what is needed to make improvements to technology, buildings and vehicles for the force.
It comes after John Swinney set out the Scottish Budget at Holyrood on Thursday.
The deputy First Minister announced his intention to increase resources available to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service by £13m and to the wider Scottish justice system by £165m.
Swinney indicated that this would provide resources to tackle court backlogs, strengthen legal aid provision and enable funding for police services to increase by £80m.
In response to the spending announcement, Sir Iain praised the work carried out by officers across the country.
However, he acknowledged the financial pressure facing public services and upon policing budgets.
“We know the the financial pressure upon the public sector in the United Kingdom and Scotland, and indeed, upon individuals and families,” he said.
“Hard choices lie ahead to deliver effective policing within the revenue budget available and our capital funding remains significantly lower than that needed to progress improvement to our technology, buildings and vehicles.
“However, the budget for 2023/24 is an improvement on the level indicated in the Scottish Government’s resource spending review and a welcome recognition of the significant transformation, saving and enhanced service delivered by Police Scotland.
“I am hugely grateful to our officers for their hard work. We continue to work with the Scottish Police Authority and the Scottish Government to serve our communities and keep people safe.”
Funding for the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), which includes Police Scotland, has been set at £1.4bn for the 2023/24 financial year.
Police chiefs had previously warned of the potential for significant cuts to services and jobs if extra cash was not made available.
Martyn Evans, chair of the SPA, said that “difficult choices” remain to ensure a balanced budget position in 2023.
“There are clearly very considerable constraints on public spending and policing is not immune to those,” he said.
“Today’s budget announcement represents an improved position from May’s Resource Spending Review and we acknowledge that support.
“Over the years, the authority has consistently highlighted the need for significant investment to maintain, transform and improve policing.
“Today’s settlement is welcome, but it does not meet this ongoing requirement.”
Evans added: “Difficult choices remain to ensure a balanced budget position next year.
“We are already working closely with the chief constable and the director of forensic services to consider what will need to be prioritised for the year ahead.”
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