Police Scotland has spent almost £5m to settle legal claims in the past 12 months, according to a new report.
The force shelled out almost £1m in compensation to former firearms officer Rhona Malone after an employment tribunal found a “horrific” culture of misogyny in the force.
However, that formed less than a fifth of all the payouts awarded as part of settlements in the 2021/22 financial year – including more than £2m on employer liability claims.
A further £1,683,240 was spent on “public liability”, while around £800,000 was sectioned off for “motor liability”, figures obtained by the Scottish Liberal Democrats showed.
A Police Scotland spokesperson said backdated claims from previous years had inflated the most recent figures.
However the Lib Dems justice spokesman, Liam McArthur, said the funds represented a significant financial drain amid worries over funding cuts to the force.
He cited police chiefs’ concerns up to 4,400 officer and staff jobs could be lost over the next four years as a result of Scottish Government budget cuts.
“At the last election, the SNP pledged to protect the police resource budget. Instead, they are planning scything cuts,” he said.
“This speaks volumes for the spending priorities of the SNP/Green government.
“These are significant sums of money that are being paid out.
“Police bosses and the Scottish Government must ensure that legal claims are not adding even more pressure to an already squeezed policing budget.”
Ms Malone successfully pursued a victimisation claim against the force last year.
The tribunal found ruled that there was an “absolute boys’ club” culture within an armed response vehicles (ARV) unit, adding the legitimate concerns of a “dedicated and promising” officer had been ignored.
A Police Scotland spokesperson said all compensation claims were considered on a “case-by-case” basis.
They added: “Our officers and staff work in challenging circumstances across the country to keep communities safe and improve the lives of the public.
“A significant proportion of the increase in compensation payments this year can be attributed to a few cases relating to incidents from previous years.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “This is a matter for Police Scotland. The Scottish Government expects all public bodies to deal with compensation claims with careful regard to the public purse.”