‘In 2015-16 the force paid out £1.27m in damages as a result of 516 claims, up from almost £1.17m the previous year and just under £1m in 2013/14.’
These figures were obtained by the Scottish Conservatives under freedom of information legislation (FoI) and then of course immediately headlined and repeated as often as they could by BBC Scotland. They did mention that:
‘Police Scotland said the compensation payments were a “tiny percentage” of their £1.1bn annual budget.’
What is the tiny percentage? Well, it’s 0.11%. Police Scotland work in an often dangerous and risky environment. They regularly have to take risks and act very quickly in the public interest. Personally, I’d have expected a higher figure.
Of this £1.27 million around £459,000 was paid as a result of employment liability claims or in other words compensation for injured staff.
Here’s what UK Police overall paid out to staff in compensation pay-outs over two years – £14m. So assuming it’s £7 million in one year, how does the Scottish £459 000 compare? Scotland’s population is about one eleventh of the UK total. Scotland’s figure is a bit less than one fourteenth of the UK total so less than you might have expected. No story there for the Scottish Tories, I suppose, is there?
Now South Yorkshire Police covering a population of 1.33 million or about one quarter of Scotland’s population. Just for their mismanagement of the Hillsborough disaster, they spent £25 million on legal fees for officers involved, over the last two years. They had to get a Home Office grant of £20.4 million to enable this. You may argue that this was a unique case and therefore not comparable in anyway but Police Scotland regularly cover large crowded events as did their predecessor regional forces. The UK Conservative Party has been broadly protective of South Yorkshire Police. They owe them for their militaristic approach to the miners’ strikes, of course. How would Ruth Davidson react, however, if Police Scotland were to make even a much smaller mistake, with only a handful of deaths, in the handling of a large crowd in Scotland?
‘Police Scotland’s failure to protect the public is a national disgrace and the SNP are to blame!’
If Hillsborough is too unusual to use here, how about the case where Cleveland Police paid £450 000 in compensation to one officer? That’s virtually the same as the whole Scottish budget for compensation to officers. Cleveland’s population is 390 000 or about one fifteenth of Scotland’s. Here’s the story:
‘Police ordered to pay £450k for PC racially abused by his bosses An Asian police officer who was labelled “just a P***” by his superiors has won more than £450,000 damages after enduring 10 years of abuse.’
Finally, just out of interest, here’s a global comparison on an admittedly different cost centre. In 2016, based on a population of only 2.7 million
‘Chicago Has Spent Half a Billion Dollars on Police Brutality Cases.’
I wonder what the Scottish figure for this was? Maybe another Tory FOI called for?