MORE than 3000 civilian staff could lose their jobs under moves to create a single police force next year, public sector union Unison has claimed.

It says the police's own figures indicate the true number of staff cuts is 3200 – far more than the 2000 discussed previously.

The rise has been attributed to the fact the new Police Service Of Scotland will have to pay £22 million a year in VAT.

However, the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos) denied staff cuts would be affected by the VAT liability.

The Scottish Government has stated publicly the VAT will not be paid from the police budget and it was accounted for in its original costings. It described the union's figures as unfounded.

However, Dave Watson, Unison's Scottish organiser, said: "Support to police officers is being slashed. 1000 posts have already gone and a further 3200 posts are planned to be cut.

"These figures have been discussed with Acpos at recent meetings and at no point have they been refuted. They are based on their own figures.

"On VAT, the Justice budget would have to find the extra money every year to put back into the police and fire budgets. And they have not said they will do that."

Police staff currently field calls from the public, work on crime analysis and as court liaison officers, in forensics, personnel and admin.

A paper from Acpos this year states: "The figure of 2054 will increase to circa 2400 if projected savings of £10m in police staff terms and conditions is not achieved. ... Our planning assumption, therefore, is the new Police Service Of Scotland will have a recurring VAT liability of £22m per annum, which is the equivalent of 800 police staff jobs."

Chief Constable Kevin Smith, President of Acpos, said the savings would not equate to 3000 posts.

"The concern that we are facing potential job cuts on the scale described are unfounded," he said. "We do need to find savings from the budget which equate to around 2000 posts. However, the concerns we did have going back several months around the impact of VAT payment on potential job cuts have receded."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "These suggestions are completely unfounded."

l Meanwhile, the Scottish Police College has denied claims of bullying.

Unison's Fife branch claims between 10 and 20 allegations of bullying and intimidation have been made to it about the college, which is to be the centre of the new single police service.

John Geates, director of the college, said: "I reject these unsubstantiated suggestions that a culture of bullying exists in any part of our organisation."