Budget cuts to custody facilities are leaving police officers at risk of assault, according to the Scottish Police Federation (SPF).
In a letter to the Scottish Justice Committee this week, the organisation said that while “cell care” had greatly improved, budget cuts meant it was arguable that “the human rights of prisoners are being ignored.”
“As a direct consequence of diminished funding […] police officers and the police service are under intolerable pressures,” they continued.
“Notwithstanding the best intentions and efforts of all involved, an unacceptably large number of prisoners are treated in a manner, which in the view of the SPF, is completely incompatible with their human rights.”
‘Completely Incompatible with their Human Rights’
Image Credit: Michel Curi / Flickr
The SPF said that a lack of custody centres meant that officers were having to travel “vast distances” to cells, “zigzagging the country”, and wasting police time.
In 2013 there were 60 part-time custody centres in Scotland, alongside 42 full-time facilities. There are now just 50 part-time centres and 35 full-time centres.
The letter also pointed to problems with empty spaces in units, transportation and the processing of detainees.
This increased the risk of assault and injury to police officers
“Even the patience and goodwill of the most compliant prisoner can be tested in these circumstances,” they explained. “This increases the risk of assault and injury to police officers as well as the inevitable additional charges against the accused.”
A Reduction in Custody Centres
Image Credit: Linzi / Flickr
The General Secretary of the SPF, Calum Steele, said it some prisoners’ human rights were being ignored.
“Many prisoners are now conveyed for longer than could arguably be considered acceptable while in handcuffs, or insecure in a cage in the back of a police vehicle.”
Police Scotland is about to start the process of financial planning for the next year with a budget deficit of £47.2 million.
However, a spokesperson for the Scottish Government told Police Professional that Holyrood was committed to protecting the budget in real terms.
They also cited plans to deliver an additional £100 million of investment by the end of the present Parliament.