TOP police officers have issued a warning about a major crime wave amid claims that cuts could reduce the police to a “quasi-paramilitary force” able to respond only to the most serious incidents.

Deputy Chief Constable David Page has told MSPs that planned budget cuts could lead to the elimination of the 101 police helpline, the removal of officers from schools and longer waiting times for 999 calls.


Cuts could reduce Police Scotland to a ‘quasi-military force’, fearAuthor: Alamy
Deputy Chief Constable David Page issued a warning about police spending cuts


Deputy Chief Constable David Page issued a warning about police spending cuts
Jamie Green said the cuts could put communities under


Jamie Green said the cuts could put communities at “serious risk”Author: Getty

And in what opposition leaders called “devastating and appalling”, Mr Page said up to 4,500 jobs could be lost, with the day-to-day the police functions.

It comes after the Scottish Government’s spending review suggested the criminal justice sector would receive £11.6 billion a year in “flat settlement cash” by 2027, which, adjusted for inflation, would mean a major cut in in real terms.

In a further grim warning, senior police chiefs said the plans would cause a spike in crime and crime victims as the police provide a “significantly reduced service”.

The Scottish Police Federation said the cuts, which also affect the courts, would mean “many offenders” are likely to escape justice.

Police Scotland has warned that without a budget increase, inflationary pressures and rising wages could lead to 4,500 job cuts by 2027.

Asked by Holyrood’s Criminal Justice Committee what would lead to such a reduction in staff, Mr Page said: “There is a real concern that we will not be able to carry out our duties as we are now.

“We offer one of the best policing services in the UK and the world.

“Our officers are part of our communities. You start to lose it.’

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He added: “We don’t want Police Scotland to become almost like a quasi-paramilitary force where all they can deal with are the most serious incidents.”

And talking to BBC Speaking on Radio Scotland today, Scottish Police Federation general secretary Callum Steele said: “Obviously if there is an expectation that the service will continue with the same money for the next number of years, it can only come at one cost and that cost will be staffing.

“And a greatly reduced police force will not be able to deal with the same volume of issues that it can deal with today.

“We’re going to have fewer police stations, we’re going to have fewer police officers, we’re going to have fewer police cars.

“We’re going to have more crime victims, and we’re going to have more crime — and we’re going to have a more disgruntled public.”

In August we reported how the number of police officers had fallen to 16,610 – the lowest level since 2008.

Scottish Tori Shadow justice secretary Jamie Green said: “If these planned cuts go ahead on the SNP’s watch, they will put our communities at serious risk.”

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SNP Justice Secretary Keith Brown said: “Our largely fixed budgets and limited financial powers mean that the UK Government must provide the Scottish Government with sufficient funding to support public services and the economy in these difficult times.”

A Treasury spokesman said: “We have provided the Scottish Government with a record £41 billion a year for the next three years.”

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