Public Audit Committee demands answers over Police Scotland’s £200m deficit

Scotland’s police force has been described as “an organisation in crisis” after the Auditor General’s told a Holyrood committee there is a £200 million deficit in the budget.

Caroline Gardner, the Auditor General for Scotland, reported last month that the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), was facing a deficit of £188m by 2020-21.

Ms Gardner told the Public Audit Committee yesterday that the forecasted deficit was “conservative” because it assumed government funding would remain constant.

She said: “The lack of progress that’s been made in demonstrating financial leadership is unacceptable for any public body, but particularly for one of the scale and importance of policing in Scotland.”

SNP MSP Alex Neil called for Chief Constable Philip Gormley and other managers of the SPA to give evidence before the committee.

He said: “This is a totally unacceptable performance.

“There’s a general lack of confidence in policing in Scotland at the moment.

“We know that morale is rock bottom amongst the police force.

“It strikes me that this is an organisation in crisis, in terms of the management of their finances.”

SNP committee member Colin Beattie said the latest report was “deeply disappointing”, while Labour convener Jenny Marra said the evidence was “incredibly worrying”.

Jenny Marra, convener of the Public Audit and Post-legislative Scrutiny Committee said: “It was incredibly worrying to hear today that the Scottish Police Authority’s cumulative funding gap – initially projected to be £188 million –  may, according to theAuditor General, rise to almost £200 million.

“The Audit Committee is calling for the chair and chief executive of the Scottish Police Authority, the Chief Constable and the Scottish government to come before us to get some clear answers on this financial mess and to find out why no progress is being made despite continual warnings.”