Grampian Police (Funding)

Justice and Law Officers – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 22nd March 2007.

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Photo of Richard Lochhead Richard Lochhead Scottish National Party 2:15 pm, 22nd March 2007

To ask the Scottish Executive what progress is being made towards allocating Grampian police a more equitable share of national funding. (S2O-12414)

Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Labour

We are providing a record £1.1 billion for policing in Scotland. Grampian police receives £93.7 million—an increase of £32.6 million or 53.4 per cent since 1999.

Police funding was reviewed in 2004 and the outcome, which was endorsed by all eight chief constables, was that Grampian police should receive additional resources. By 2007-08, that will deliver an additional £8 million to Grampian over and above what they would have expected to receive.

Photo of Richard Lochhead Richard Lochhead Scottish National Party

The minister has failed to compare the funding of Grampian police with the funding of forces elsewhere in the country. The point of my question was to ensure that Grampian police gets a more equitable share of national funding.

Is the minister aware that many communities in Moray and Grampian feel that the police are all but invisible? According to the Grampian branch of the Scottish Police Federation, Grampian police has the lowest number of police officers per head of population in Scotland. Does she agree that that is related to the unfair funding formula that has penalised Grampian for far too long? Is not it about time we reversed that situation by giving Grampian a fair share of police funding, to help not only with the policing of Balmoral when the royal family is there, and the policing of the offshore industry, which is an additional responsibility on the Grampian force, but with tackling the many challenges that face our communities?

Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Labour

I find Richard Lochhead's questions astonishing, when I have just given figures that show that Grampian police's funding has increased by 53.4 per cent since 1999. The review of grant-aided expenditure funding considered precisely the question that Richard Lochhead raised, which is whether the funding of some police forces was out of sync. In response to that review, all eight chief constables in Scotland signed up to the recommendation that Grampian police should receive additional resources. That was the right thing to do. There has been an overall increase in the number of police officers.

If Mr Lochhead is seriously suggesting that Scottish Executive ministers should take on chief constables' operational responsibility for the allocation of resources at local level, that represents a significant change, and I would like to know whether it is now SNP policy.