Police Scotland spent almost £5m settling legal claims
The Scottish Liberal Democrats have revealed that Police Scotland spent almost £5 million on settling legal claims in the 2021/2022 financial year and warned that police leadership will need to ensure that such claims are kept to a minimum.
Justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP highlighted the case of ex-firearms officer Rhona Malone, who was awarded nearly £1m for sexist victimisation, as an example of a case in which an officer was let down by police bosses.
A freedom of information request asked Police Scotland to provide the “bi-annual report detailing claims settled by Police Scotland, noted under ‘legal Services Claims Handling- Statistical Report.’” This report details employer liability, public liability and motor liability claims settled by Police Scotland in the financial year 2021/2022 and the total money spent on settling them.
Scottish Liberal Democrats found that Police Scotland spent:
- £2,382,635 on employer liability claims in the financial year 2021/2022
- £1,683,240 on public liability claims in the financial year 2021/2022
- £801,488 on motor liability claims in the financial year 2021/2022
This comes to a total of £4,867,363.
At the end of October, Police Scotland warned that approximately 4,400 officer and staff jobs could go over four years as a result of government spending cuts.
Mr McArthur said: “These are significant sums of money that are being paid out. In the case of Rhona Malone, it is clear that if police bosses had addressed the culture within one of their own units, then perhaps the entire situation could have been avoided. Not only could a talented officer have remained in the service, huge sums of a taxpayers’ money could also have been saved.
“Police officers have already warned that government cuts threaten a serious loss of skills and expertise from the service. Scottish Liberal Democrat research has shown that police officers, including those with as little as two years’ service, are leaving in droves.
“At the last election, the SNP pledged to protect the police resource budget. Instead, they are planning scathing cuts. This speaks volumes for the spending priorities of the SNP/Green government.
“Police bosses and the Scottish government must ensure that legal claims are not adding even more pressure to an already squeezed policing budget.”