Public safety fears as anti-terror officers are included amongst 750 axed Scots police staff
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Unison says around 550 vacancies will not being filled and revealed that in March they were informed of another 200 jobs being shed out with that over a 12 month period, either through voluntary redundancy or through retirement.
The cuts, said to be what Police Scotland classified as “non-critical” are understood to involve four in the counter terrorism and borders policing division, and a further 19 in the organised crime and counter terrorism division, including cyber crime officers and forensic computer analysts.
A number of the counter-terrorist staff who are set to leave are responsible for gathering intelligence and carrying out surveillance, it is understood.
The “deleted non critical” vacant posts in anti-terrorism divisions include two criminal intelligence analysts, three forensic computer analysts, two intelligence officers, four intelligence indexers, an interventions adviser, an intelligence assessor, a financial investigator, a reviewing officer, a productions officer and an office manager.
George McIrvine Unison police branch secretary said: “We are genuinely concerned we will not be able to keep people safe with brutal cuts like these.”
The development comes as Theresa May came under fire in the wake of the terror attacks in Manchester and London over cuts to the police and the intelligence agencies.
The move means that around one in seven of Police Scotland’s civilian staff will be cut with numbers reduced from around 5500 to 4660, the union says.
Unison, which has suspended all discussions with the Joint Negotiation & Consultative Committee as they consult with members of what action to take on the development, say they have been concerned that police officers are being used to cover some vacancies and that the trend will continue.
Mr McIrvine added “The impact of the police staff jobs going is huge. The idea that Scotland’s police force is protected and cuts only happen to police forces in England & Wales is utter nonsense. Its getting tougher by the day to provide a service to the public.
“Many police staff are working 12 hour shifts, having leave cancelled, with sickness absence high because people are stressed. We are also told that police officers will continue to be taken off the streets to backfill our jobs at a time when we know they need to be visible in the communities gathering intelligence and reassuring the public.”
The staff cuts come four months after Police Scotland, in outlining its 10-year policing plan in February proposed to cut 400 officers with the service facing a £188m funding gap by 2020-21.
As part of the Policing 2026 strategy, police officers were to be released from corporate and backroom roles, with priority given to frontline operations and a more visible community presence.
Now Unison the union has said that they have been informed around one in 17 vacant civilian jobs in the force will be “deleted”, or not filled, leading to concerns that police will be taken off the streets to backfill posts.
The cuts are also said to include over 50 police custody and security support officers, 38 crime analysts and a number of managers including heads of legal services, information management, services delivery and service management.
Also axed are a series of IT management roles, including the head of IT infrastructure and the head of ICT commerical strategy and procurement.
The current force computer system has been condemned as not being fit for purpose after the failure of the i6 scheme to improve how Police Scotland records, manages and analyses information. It collapsed because of disagreements between the contractors, Accenture, and the government and the police.
A recent Audit Scotland report into the failure of the project urged Police Scotland to urgently reassess its IT needs after the collapse of the project Other cuts involve cleaners, call handlers and clerical staff.
The union said it discovered, following discussions with police managers, that the deleted vacancies dated back to the 2014/15 financial year.
Deputy Chief Officer David Page of Police Scotland said: “The 500 other posts are not new job losses – they are all non-critical vacant positions and the majority have gone unfilled for a considerable period of time as we have worked towards financial sustainability.”
He said the 200 job losses were corporate services and business support roles “which we are committed to managing through an engagement process with the unions”.
He added “Our Policing 2026 strategy, currently being finalised after public consultation, is about balancing the workforce so that we have the right people, with the right skills, working in the right place to keep people safe.
“This will include freeing up officers from back office jobs into operational roles, increasing policing productivity and recruiting more specialist police staff to work in operational areas.”
He also said: “Our Policing 2026 strategy, currently being finalised after public consultation, is about balancing the workforce so that we have the right people, with the right skills, working in the right place to keep people safe.
“This will include freeing up officers from back office jobs into operational roles, increasing policing productivity and recruiting 170 more specialist police staff to work in operational areas.
“In addition, we received additional funding this year to increase the police staff headcount by 185 to fill specialist roles that were deemed to be critical to operational policing.
“We are planning to reduce the number of posts in corporate services and business support roles by around 200 through voluntary severance, which we are committed to managing through an engagement process with the unions.
“The 500 other posts are not new job losses – they are all non-critical vacant positions and the majority have gone unfilled for a considerable period of time as we have worked towards financial sustainability.”