Strikes, constitutional uncertainty and crisis poverty threaten the cohesion of communities across the country, according to the Chief Constable of Scotland.
Chief Constable Sir Ian Livingstone said the planned cuts, which could result in the loss of thousands of officers, would result in a “fundamental reduction” in the force’s ability to fairly and safely police large events and demonstrations.
Livingstone made his remarks at a Scottish Police Authority board meeting on Thursday, the day after rallies were held across the country to protest a High Court ruling that the Scottish government could not hold a second referendum on independence without approval from Westminster.
He told the board: “When there are times of potential breakdown in social cohesion – there are more intense industrial relations, there’s obviously a level of constitutional uncertainty within society right now – all of those put greater pressure on community cohesion and inevitably that can manifest.” pressure on the local police.
A police source confirmed that Livingstone did not intend to make a political point, but that a combination of factors were straining already strained resources, as the cost of living doubled and neediness increased, and other agencies faced similar budget cuts, more often than not. Leave the police as a service of last resort.
Referring to the Scottish Government’s proposals to introduce a fixed cash funding allocation for Police Scotland over the next five years, which senior officers have estimated would require cuts of up to £300m, Livingstone said: “The implications for community policing – the solid foundation of policing in Scotland – And for operational effectiveness, our ability to fairly and safely monitor major events and demonstrations and protect people from current and emerging threats will be important.”
Livingstone earlier this year called for a “strong but respectful debate” after what he described as disgraceful behavior at Conservative leadership ceremonies in Perth.
Politicians, journalists and members of the public who attended protests at Perth Music Hall in August reported that protesters threw eggs and spat at Conservative Party members and crossed external security barriers before being pushed back by officers.
Amid accusations of increasingly inflammatory language on both sides of the constitutional debate, spokesperson Nicola Sturgeon on Thursday accused “unionist politicians who try to pretend they won elections they lost” of “acting like Donald Trump.”
It came after the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Alex Cole-Hamilton, said Sturgeon changing the pro-independence movement as the “Democratic Movement in Scotland” after the court’s ruling was “away from Trump’s playbook”.
I was elected to oppose the referendum by more votes than any other candidate in the history of the Scottish Parliament. “It is my democratic duty to continue to oppose him,” he said.
Also on Thursday, the SNP’s Westminster defense spokesman, Stuart MacDonald, urged colleagues on Twitter to moderate their language, and encouraged politicians to “avoid talking about being imprisoned or chained”.
It came after Sturgeon told reporters on Wednesday, as she pledged to hold the next general election as a “de facto referendum”, that she would not “allow Scottish democracy to be a captive of Westminster”.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Despite the UK government’s austerity, the Scottish Government has increased funding for the police on an annual basis since 2016-17 and has invested more than £10 billion in policing since the creation of Police Scotland in 2013.
“Police Scotland have taken in around 900 new recruits this year and we have a higher number of officers per head of population than England and Wales and more officers now than in March 2007.”