The cabinet secretary is right that Scotland is well served by its police officers and staff, but Audit Scotland’s latest report leaves the SPA’s aim of achieving financial balance by 2020-21 in tatters. To make matters worse, Audit Scotland warns that without significant action the deficit is set to increase. Dealing with Brexit, Euro 2020 and COP26—the 26th United Nations climate change conference of the parties—all while policing a pandemic means that next year could be the busiest ever for Scotland’s police force.
The challenges are new, but the financial problems are not. There have been bailouts ever since Police Scotland’s inception, so at what point does a bailout just become the budget?