31 October 2015
Speech to the Scottish Labour Party conference
Chair, comrades, Conference
George McIrvine, UNISON Scotland seconding Aberdeen Central CLP motion on Police Scotland and the call to halt the 'strategic direction' of the Force on the continued closures of local Control Rooms and Service Centres across Scotland.
Two years ago, a proposal was tabled by Police Scotland to the Scottish Police Authority to seek agreement for a staged approach of control room closures across Scotland.
This 'so called' business case had no real detail on why, other than meeting year on year unachievable efficiency savings targets, by this they would require to drastically cut and relocate the loyal workforce.
This approach by Police Scotland has only served to manipulate propaganda stats that show calls from the public are answered quicker than ever before and the service is coping admirably.
The reality is, Conference, we have a 24/7 blue light emergency service workforce under continued pressure to perform, shifts woefully under resourced, leading to a vastly increased workload for those that still find themselves in employment and as the recent Police Scotland staff survey showed staff morale and loyalty at its lowest level.
Sadly these factors recently led to the tragic loss of life in the widely reported M9 incident in July which was eventually acknowledged by the Scottish Government when they called on HMICS to review this area of the business and threw £1.4 million of their budget underspend to iron out this particular problem that was causing embarrassment.
We all agree, Conference, what we don't want is another incident like the M9.
As the motion states, even with a damning interim report by HMICS, Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority are continuing with the imminent closure of service centres in Dundee and Aberdeen as well as the Control Room in Aberdeen and Inverness.
UNISON have always said we wholeheartedly disagree with this direction of travel of these planned closures and the centralisation of services.
However we continue to support our civilian police staff members through these difficult times and challenge the changes which have been foisted upon the employer because of the uncosted soundbite and outdated manifesto pledge of the 1000 extra cops and the ridiculous £1.1 billion pounds efficiency savings.
Be mindful, Conference, we are only into Year 3 of Police Reform and we seem to be at crisis point, we still have to endure another 11 years of these planned brutal cuts.
UNISON Scotland asks Police Scotland to step back from their blinkered centralisation plans of control rooms / service centres closures, review the situation they find themselves in and consider a different path providing a quality public blue light service engaging with those who know the job best, the workforce.
More so, we ask this Centralisation mad 'control freakery' Scottish Government the real need to release the handcuffs from the Scottish Police Authority and the Force and allow them the freedom to return Scottish policing to protecting the local community's in which they should be serving. br>UNISON Scotland fully support the need for Scottish Labour to commit to develop and sustain an effective local network of emergency control room / services centres across Scotla
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