The union representing police officers has called on the Scottish Government for urgent intervention after warnings of “massive cuts” to Police Scotland’s budget which they say could threaten public safety.

Unison has called on the Scottish Government to “prioritise public safety” and “properly fund the police service” after warnings that 4,500 jobs could be cut.

Police Scotland has given written evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s criminal justice committee in which they warn that 4,500 jobs could be cut unless funding is “significantly increased”.

They also warned that a wage freeze may be necessary.

It came as the committee met on Wednesday to scrutinize the Scottish Government’s 2023/24 budget and its impact on policing as well as other areas of criminal justice.

The union said the force had already “bearing the brunt” of cuts over the past decade, with more than 2,600 jobs already lost.

Michelle Brewster, Unison Scotland police department secretary, said: “These figures for Police Scotland are deeply worrying and threaten the safety of everyone in Scotland.

“Threatening to cut thousands more would completely deplete the service and pose a huge danger to public safety.

“Police service is the thinnest blue line. Cuts of this magnitude could lead to massive job losses in forensics, fraud, analytics and counter-terrorism. Such drastic job cuts cannot be made without putting public safety at greater risk.

“We need urgent intervention from the Scottish Government to ensure the police service is properly funded and to keep our communities safe.”


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

“We have already made the difficult choice to support the 2022-23 pay proposals and rightly so, as our police deserve it.

“While policing matters and the setting of budget priorities are always a matter for the Chief Constable, we remain fully committed to using the resources available to us to support the vital work of Police Scotland to deliver effective and responsive policing across Scotland.

“We will be working with justice organisations, including Police Scotland and the SPA, to develop and co-ordinate their implementation plans in response to the allocation of high-level spending review allocations.

“Despite the UK Government’s austerity measures, we have increased police funding year-on-year since 2016-17 and have invested more than £10 billion in policing since the creation of Police Scotland in 2013.”

A Treasury spokesman said: “Responsibility for funding public services has largely been devolved across the UK, but we have given the Scottish Government a record £41 billion a year over the next three years – the highest spending settlement since devolution.”