Labour demands action on emergency service funding crisis

After the news on Thursday that the Fire and Rescue Service is £400 million short in capital funding, a damning report from the Scottish Police Authority has warned that Police Scotland’s digital resources are ‘six or seven years behind’ what's needed to fight organised crime.

The Audit Scotland report had warned that the capital backlog in the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is so severe that we may soon start seeing fire engines breaking down.

Now Police Scotland are running into the same problems. David Page, Police Scotland’s Deputy Chief Officer, warned at an Scottish Police Authority board meeting that Police Scotland’s digital infrastructure is so poorly resourced that the organised crime is making more significant investments than the authorities. He said on the 31st of May that:

“Modernisation of the technology for policing was overdue by six - now, seven years.”

“The type of investment serious organised crime is making and with the way they exploit technology at pace, we will fall rapidly behind.”

The Scottish Government pledged to keep the number of frontline officers constant, but that has only meant that the cuts have fallen on the backroom and infrastructure spending - meaning those frontline officers are forced to carry out administrative work.

Labour has demanded an emergency statement from SNP Justice Secretary Michael Matheson, to explain why emergency services are at least £600 million underfunded.

Speaking about the crisis, Scottish Labour’s Justice spokesperson Daniel Johnson MSP said:

“Our police officers and firefighters do fantastic work – but once again they are simply not being given the tools to do the job under the SNP.”

“Senior police officers are warning at least £200million is now needed to make IT systems fit to tackle cyber crime – and it is absolutely shocking the SNP has let the situation get this out of hand.”

“With the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service also facing an investment backlog of more than £400million, it is increasingly clear that the SNP’s failure to invest in our emergency services is putting lives at risk and potentially playing into the hands of criminals.”

“SNP Justice Secretary Michael Matheson must urgently give a statement to parliament explaining how this funding crisis for our emergency services was allowed to develop – and what the SNP government intends to do to fix it.”




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