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Police / Nothing to suggest staffing levels will be reduced in Shetland, police chief says

Photo: Shetland News

POLICE Scotland’s Highlands and Islands chief says there is nothing to suggest staff numbers in Shetland will have to be reduced amid budget worries in the organisation.

Divisional commander Conrad Trickett gave the reassurance at a meeting of the Shetland community safety and resilience board on Tuesday.

But he conceded that the police are facing a “real terms reduction” in its budget from the Scottish Government when taking inflation into account.

The issue was raised by board chairman councillor Allison Duncan.

He referred to recent comments made by chief constable of Police Scotland Sir Iain Livingstone, who warned against the financial impact on the force.

He claimed that policing was not a priority of the Scottish Government’s recent spending review.

The Scottish Police Federation said the spending review shows an intention to “deliver flat cash revenue funding to the police for the next five years”.

“Allowing for an optimistic view on inflation, that flat cash allocation could amount to between an eight per cent and 12 per cent real terms reduction to the police revenue budget,” the group told its members.

Trickett said over 80 per cent of expenditure in the police force is on “people and pay”, and with a tight budget this is a concern.

He told members of the board that the finance team in the police is working hard to look at the figures.

But the chief said local policing – such as in areas like the Highlands and Islands – remains a key priority for Police Scotland.

While Trickett could not give a cast iron assurance that staffing levels will not be reduced in the Highlands and Islands, he said he had “no information that suggests reducing the policing footprint on Shetland”.

He also said the police force in Shetland just now is in fairly good health regarding staffing and also equipment.

A Scottish Government spokesperson previously said: “The resource spending review sets out the Scottish government’s high-level resource spending plans for future budgets, providing a basis for financial planning.

“The resource spending review is not a budget – future Scottish budgets will be presented to the parliament for scrutiny and a formal vote each year.

“The police resource budget has been protected in real terms since 2016/17, which led to the elimination of the police budget deficit.

“We remain committed to working closely with both SPA [Scottish Police Authority] and Police Scotland to ensure we continue to have a safe, protected and resilient Scotland.”