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SNP provides just 3% of body cameras requested by Police Scotland

Police Scotland’s crime-fighting efforts are being stifled by the SNP Government providing them with just 3% of the body-worn cameras requested. 

The force said in May that they wanted 10,000-11,000 officers to have access to body-worn technology – yet the Scottish Government confirmed in a written parliamentary question that there are just 311 of them across the service.

This means that only a tiny fraction of Police Scotland’s 17,289 full-time officers have access to cameras.

The shocking figures are a product of the SNP Government failing to adequately resource the police, with the 2021-22 capital budget falling more than £30million short of what was requested in Police Scotland’s pre-budget submission.

Chief Superintendent Matt Richards has highlighted the “increased speed and efficiency” of body-worn cameras, which are a vital tool in fighting crime and accelerating the justice process.

Scottish Conservative Shadow Community Safety Minister Russell Findlay MSP, said:

“By failing to provide these cameras, the SNP Government is neglecting our frontline police officers and putting them at increased risk.

“Body-worn CCTV is an essential tool for securing guilty pleas, reducing court congestion and giving victims speedy closure at a time of unprecedented court backlogs. 

“These cameras also help to reduce violence against the police, thereby helping to counter the disturbing trend of assaults on emergency workers.

“SNP funding shortfalls put the justice system under unnecessary strain and leave officers feeling less safe and undervalued.

“Ministers must listen to calls by the Scottish Conservatives and Police Scotland for additional resources to help officers deliver what we ask of them.”

ENDS

Notes

A tiny proportion of police officers in Scotland have access to a body-worn camera. The Scottish Government confirmed in a Written Parliamentary Question answer that there are 256 body worn cameras in the North East division of Police Scotland, 5 in the Fife division as well as 50 cameras from legacy forces including the Football Policing Unit. This totals 311 cameras across Police Scotland. As of 30 June 2021, there were 17,289 full-time officers in Police Scotland. (Scottish Parliament, Written Parliamentary Question Answer, 5 August 2021, link; Police Scotland, Office & Staff Numbers Quarter 2 – 30 June 2021, 3 August 2021, link).

 

Police Scotland said in May they wanted between 10,000-11,000 officers to have access to body-worn technology. Chief Superintendent Matt Richards spoke of the benefits of the technology which could help reduce court backlogs, saying victims would benefit from ‘increased speed and efficiency’ that is provided by the use of body worn cameras. He continued: ‘We know there is a real spike in guilty pleas, which again reduces that congestion in courts.’ He said he wanted ‘between 10,000 and 11,000 frontline officers and staff’ to have access to the technology. (STV News, 31 May 2021, link).

 

This means the SNP have provided more than 10,000 fewer body-worn cameras than requested. Taking a mid-point of the Chief Superintendent’s request means Police Scotland are requesting around 10,500 body-worn cameras. However, they only have 311 body-worn cameras at the moment – meaning there is a shortfall of around 10,189 cameras due to the SNP’s failure to resource our police. In their pre-budget submission for the 2021-22 budget, Police Scotland stated that ‘significant transformative benefits’ could be achieved by providing £85.7 million of capital funding in 2021-22. However, the SNP Government only provided £45.5 million in capital funding for the Scottish Police Authority and £4.6 million in capital funding for National Police Funding and Reform. This totals £50.1 million in capital funding – more than £30 million short of what Police Scotland requested. (Scottish Parliament, Police Scotland Pre-2021-22 Budget Submission, 8 September 2020, link; Scottish Government, Budget 2021-22, 28 January 2021, Table 9.07 and 9.11, link).