Police Scotland will need to lose 600 officers and 200 staff members by April 2024, unless Shona Robison hikes the force’s budget, MSPs have been told.

David Page, the force’s deputy chief officer told Holyrood’s Criminal Justice Committee that a flat cash settlement could still mean cuts of £50 million and see overall overall numbers fall by more than 2,000 over the next four years.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) has said they may need to take 18 fire appliances off the road without an increase in funding. 

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The dire warnings from the emergency services came at the committee’s pre-budget scrutiny session, which allows MSPs to take evidence and then suggest priorities to the Finance Secretary ahead of her annual fiscal event, expected in mid-December.

Mr Page told MSPs the only way the force could lose so many people would be through compulsory redundancies.

“Even if we stopped all the probationer intake in December and the probationer intake in March, it would not get us down to the number we need to do.

“So we would be looking to other mechanisms, like voluntary redundancy, potentially coming to the Government and seeking compulsory redundancy.”

A paper submitted to the committee by the force said: “For policing in Scotland to operate within a flat-cash funding allocation, £140 million of recurring savings would be required to accumulate over this period.

“Pay award assumptions alone would require a 2,070 FTE reduction over the next four years, the equivalent of a 9.3% workforce reduction.”

Mr Page told the committee the financial situation meant he cannot guarantee body-worn cameras for police officers would be rolled out next year, though he said Police Scotland is doing its “utmost” to ensure it goes ahead.

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Ross Haggart, Chief Officer, of SFRS, said the service could need to make savings of between £14 million and £26 million next year alone – adding that by 2026-27, this could rise to £37-£48 million.

He said: “There’s very little scope for us to make significant savings without reducing firefighter and specifically whole-time firefighter numbers.

“If we were to have to reduce our firefighter numbers to the extent our modelling suggests, then we do not believe this could be achieved without impacting upon the safety of the communities we are here to serve.”

He said that if the service has to make a “conservative” £14 million of savings next year, “that would equate to 339 whole-time firefighters”.

Mr Haggart told MSPs: “Those firefighters would equate to 18 appliances that we would not have the ability to crew because of a reduced firefighter number.

“We have got 116 full-time appliances across Scotland, so quite a significant proportion of our appliances we would no longer be able to crew.

“Changes of that magnitude, we would not be able to meet our current response times and things like that, which would mean we would not be able to keep communities as safe as they currently are because of the magnitude of the changes we would need to make.”

Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary, Russell Findlay said the comment from Mr Page were alarming.

“Just a week after Humza Yousaf promised to deliver bodycams for our police, a senior police official has cast doubt on his pledge.

“Officers in the rest of the UK already have this essential kit, yet police in Scotland may have to wait even longer due to SNP funding cuts.

“David Page’s comments on the projected fall in police numbers are also alarming. Losing a further 2,000 officers would decimate Police Scotland’s ability to tackle crime, yet that figure could prove an underestimate if the SNP’s funding projections come to fruition.

“This SNP’s undermining of Police Scotland has to stop. Public safety is at stake.”