Police Scotland pledge over £263m maintenance bill

(Clockwise from top left) Police stations in Biggar, Giffnock, Hawick, Bo'Ness, Larkhall, Largs Image copyright Google
Image caption Police Scotland has been reviewing buildings in its estate

Police Scotland has pledged to ensure its buildings are "fit for purpose" after it emerged it faces a maintenance bill of £263m over the next decade.

The figure was released following a Freedom of Information request by the Scottish Liberal Democrats.

It includes the cost of upkeep for buildings and maintaining the force's mechanical and electrical systems.

Police Scotland responded by saying it was developing an estate investment programme.

Last October, the Scottish Police Federation raised concerns about the "crumbling police estate".

The Association of the Scottish Police Superintendents later said that the force was facing "significant budget challenges" and that many stations were in a "shocking state of disrepair".

'Fit for the future'

Police Scotland has been reviewing buildings in a number of locations which could be closed as part of a wide-ranging estate review.

In November, the force said it needed "modern, flexible buildings which are fit for the future".

In releasing the maintenance figures, Scottish Lib Dem justice spokesman Liam McArthur said: "We've seen reports of police cars held together with duct tape, leaking interview rooms and officers searching charity shops for gear.

"Now this Freedom of Information request reveals that, over the next 10 years, the cost of routine maintenance of the police estate will be more than a quarter of a billion pounds.

"That is a huge bill and it is what is required just to keep up, replacing outdated electrical equipment and buildings.

"It won't even begin to cover the new investment that is required to ensure officers and staff have the 21st century resources they need."

Image copyright Police Federation
Image caption Last year, the Scottish Police Federation raised concerns about the "crumbling police estate"

In its response, Police Scotland said the estimated spending on maintenance included replacing "components and systems assessed against the anticipated lifecycle" that may be required over the next 10 years.

Police Scotland Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said: "The Police Scotland estate was inherited from the legacy arrangements of eight forces and the Scottish Police Services Authority.

"Much of the estate had not been maintained or upgraded to an adequate standard. In addition, a number of the buildings are no longer suitable for the demands or needs of local communities."

'Ambitious plans'

Mr Livingstone said the total was the amount the force would have to pay "if we were simply to maintain our current estate".

He added: "However, that is not our intention, and through the Policing 2026 Strategy, which was approved by the SPA and placed before the Scottish Parliament this week, we laid out ambitious plans to build the police service Scotland needs for the future.

"These plans detail our intention to ensure Police Scotland becomes financially and operationally sustainable within three years.

"As part of these plans, Police Scotland is now developing an estate investment programme to ensure we have buildings which are fit for purpose across the wide range of communities we serve.

"The actual amount Police Scotland will spend on estates over the next 10 years will be calculated and refined as this investment programme is developed to ensure we continue to deliver a quality service to local communities."

'Botched centralisation'

Mr McArthur blamed the size of the maintenance bill on the "botched centralisation" of the force by the Scottish government in 2013.

But the government responded by saying it was "committed to protecting the £1bn police resource budget in real terms in every year of this parliament, a boost of £100m by 2021".

A spokeswoman added: "We have also increased the capital budget in real terms in 2017-18 and provided a further £61m to support the delivery of Policing 2026, the 10-year strategy to ensure Police Scotland is equipped to tackle new and emerging threats.

"We will continue to press UK ministers over the glaring disparity on VAT which sees Police Scotland, unlike all other UK territorial police forces, unable to recover VAT."

More on this story