Police union appeals for greater funding in face of austerity shortfalls
THE GENERAL SECRETARY of the Scottish Police Federation (SPF) has called on the Scottish Government to supply greater funding so it can police future political movements .
Speaking to CommonSpace at the SPF fringe event at the three day SNP 2016 conference at the Clyde Auditorium in Glasgow, Calum Steele said that failure to create new funding to counter political movements of both the right and left could lead to “disorder”.
He said: “The road closures and the extraordinary number of police officers that are required to police demonstrations…I know that people think there is a temptation for people to think I talking about orange parades.
“I’m talking about political demonstrations, whether it’s the right protesting or the left protesting, these things take police officers away from [ususal duties].
“I know there’s difficulty in that the fire service wants more money, education wants more money, there’s demand from all over.
“But we are asking people, what is your priority? Having these events un-policed, with the likelihood that disorder will take place, is that acceptable? If it’s not acceptable, then what are the public doing to put pressure on people like Michael Matheson to provide finances?
“People should have the right to speak freely and express their views. But every time that happens it comes at a cost, and that cost has got to be found from somewhere,”
“The government has to put it’s hand in its pocket.”
“Having these events un-policed, with the likelihood that disorder will take place, is that acceptable?” Calum Steele, SPF
Steele used the SPF fringe to provide a presentation, on what he claimed was the dilapidated state of the Scottish police service.
Though Steele defended the decision by the Scottish Government to unify Scotland’s eight local forces into the national Police Scotland force three years ago, he said that due to financial restraints the service was “going off a cliff edge”.
Scottish justice minister Michael Matheson blamed Westminster for low capital investment in Police Scotland.
Asked if these financial shortcomings meant that the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act, which has outlawed large swathes of political activity and other ‘offensive behaviour’ at and around football matches, was a financial strain, Steele answered “no”.
He said: “The OBFA, in itself, is no more than another piece of legislation to be enforced, it doesn’t pull resources away or demand more officers to be involved in stewarding.”
There have only been 79 convictions under the OFBA, despite hundreds of arrests under the legislation.
The new law has been the backdrop to escalating confrontations between police and football fans. In March 2013 when several hundred fans were kettled by around 200 hundred officers and 13 arrested in Glasgow's Gallowgate.
Pictures: CommonSpace, Calum Steele
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