Scottish Parliament need data on police officers backfilling posts, says UNISON.

UNISON Police Staff Scotland, the branch of the trade union that represents police staff in Scotland, has criticised the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee because it is unable to understand the extent of police officers back filling police staff jobs, due to lack of data.

The criticism was made in response to the report on post-legislative scrutiny of the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 - The Police Service of Scotland, which has been published by the Scottish Parliament Justice Committee.

The report acknowledges that police staff jobs are being back filled by police officers in order to meet financial savings, but says it does not know the extent of problem because they have not been given the information they need to assess it.

David Malcolm, Deputy Police Staff Branch secretary said: “The Policing 2026 project was brought to the trade unions as a way to rebalance the work force. It set out to prevent our member’s jobs being carried out unnecessarily by police officers. After all, police staff provide better value to the public purse and police officers should be out on the street helping the public. We can not allow the salami-slicing of our members jobs to continue. It is bad for police staff and bad for public services.”

Gerry Crawley, UNISON regional organiser said: "This report makes clear that around 2000 police staff have been lost from the organisation. But the committee was not given the relevant data to establish the extent to which police officers have been backfilling posts. Police staff carry out highly skilled roles to protect the public. Work should be done by Police Scotland to provide the information the committee need, as soon as possible.”

You can read the report here:

Happy International Women's Day 2019

UNISON is THE women's organisation.

Women make up the majority of our trade unions membership.

Police Staff Scotland branch recognises this importance in our own branch constitution that commits to improving proportionality in our branch.

Our women's group organises and campaigns around women's issues.

Every day we are taking steps toward improving women's involvement in our movement.

UNISON Labour Link Scotland nominate Richard Leonard MSP

UNISON Labour Link Scotland today (Tuesday) decided to nominate Richard Leonard MSP in the election for a new Leader of the Scottish Labour Party.

This followed a consultation with branch Labour Link officers which came out overwhelmingly in favour of his nomination.

UNISON Labour Link Scotland Chair Gordon McKay said:

“UNISON Labour Link is pleased to nominate Richard Leonard. He has consistently supported our values and understands that we need real and bold change in Scotland. We share Richard’s vision of a society based on full employment in a sustainable economy, funding properly our public services, providing dignity for our pensioners and hope for our young.”

It is time for real pay rises for all public service workers

Opening the debate on public sector pay today (Monday) at the Labour Party conference in Brighton, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “For millions of public service workers struggling to survive, there is no more pressing issue than lifting the pay cap.

“They’ve suffered years of brutal austerity and vicious attacks on public services, overseen by a government that does not care what damage it causes to people’s lives.

“In the first six years of Conservative rule, public sector pay rose by just 4%, while the cost of living soared by 22%.

“So for every year that’s a pay cut, and every pay slip is a painful reminder for those struggling to get by and to afford the basics.

“The Conservatives call it prudence and restraint – I call it inhuman.

“The care worker who can’t afford the bus back from work, the nurse relying on a local foodbank, and the teaching assistant forced to apply for pay day loans – frightened that if her boiler finally packs up this winter, her family is a cold snap away from disaster.

“These are not tales of pity or tales of woe. This is about real lives – the lives of the millions of people who work for all of us and who ask for nothing more than dignity, respect and a fair share.

“Thanks to this Conservative government, a quarter of UNISON members – 300,000 public service employees – don’t know how they would pay for an unexpected expense. More than three-quarters of them are buying less food and one in ten are missing entire meals to feed their children.

“This is an outrage, and it’s getting worse. Inflation is three times the level of pay rises. People face spiralling debts that are impossible to repay.

“It’s immoral – which is why we’re delighted that the Labour Party will today announce plans for a cap on credit card debt. And why we welcome the commitment in Labour’s magnificent manifesto to scrapping the pay cap.

“But we can do so much better than that. Scrapping the cap is not enough. We must fight for real funding and real change.

“Real, above inflation pay rises for all public servants every year until pay is back at the level it was before the Conservatives strangled our public services.

“That must be the minimum that we demand because yes it’s about the police officer, but it’s also about the police community support officers. Yes it’s about nurses, but it’s also about care workers, social workers, ambulance staff and healthcare assistants. Yes it’s about teachers – but it’s also about teaching assistants, school meals staff and caretakers.

“All of them, together, have borne the brunt of Conservative austerity. All of them together have fought against cutbacks. All of them together know that better pay means better public services.

“So this fight starts now. We need the whole Labour Party, MPs, councillors, mayors, every constituency to stand with us – and if the time comes to take strike action I want to see everyone with us on picket lines.

“This is a struggle for the many not just the few. Now is the time to stand strong and stand united. It’s time to put public services first and to put pay up now.”

National Suicide Prevention Week

This week we have seen a lot of focus on mental health and suicide prevention.  Sadly last year 728 people in Scotland took their own life.


Police Scotland launched it's 'Wellbeing Matters' campaign on Tuesday 5th September at the Senior Leaders Forum and this initiative will be supported by a team of Wellbeing Champions across the organisation from the 18th September.  These champions have been trained and have a greater awareness of the various support services within the organisation and can guide individuals to the help they might need.  A full list of champions will be published on the Intranet from the 18th September.


However, we can all do something.  If you are concerned about a friend, relative, colleague then ask them directly about their feelings.  Even if they appear to be carrying on with life as normal, if you notice signs of distress it will not do any harm to ask them, sometimes all they need is someone to listen.  You can also advise them to contact the Employee Assistance Programme on 0800 531 6091 if they are an employee or family member.  Encourage them to contact their GP for an emergency appointment or call NHS Direct on 111.


For further information then please look at the NHS Choose Life web page.


Launched at UNISON Scottish council on Saturday 1 April 2017 this is the UNISON Scotland manifesto for the local government elections on 4 May 2017.

Our manifesto calls for sustainable funding for local government, so it can take meaningful accountable decisions which can make a real difference to local needs. Rather than just protecting local services.

Local government have borne the brunt of austerity and this must stop. The next round of cuts will be even worse for local government with more jobs and service cuts planned. A staggering 91% of public sector jobs losses in Scotland since the crash have been in local government. That’s 30,000 jobs cut in Scottish local government since 2009.

UNISON welcomes the end of the council tax freeze and calls on councils to actively explore a comprehensive programme of refinancing which could save billions across Scotland.

UNISON manifesto also calls for:  planned expansion in early years to be delivered by the public sector as it is the most cost effective way forward; investment in social care with direct monitoring of care services and sufficient weighting to fair work in contracts and adoption with UNISON Ethical Care Charter; protection of social work budgets; a massive social housing programme; creating jobs to refurbish housing stock and do something about the 940,000 homes in Scotland; investment in library services and facilities.

See and download the full manifesto here:

UNISON members reject 1% pay offer

Today (12th January 2017) UNISON Police Staff Scotland branch advised the SPA and Police Scotland the result of theconsultative ballot of their membership who have voted to strongly reject the employers most recent pay offer by an overwhelming 92%.


Branch Secretary George McIrvine said, “This result indicates the strength of feeling amongst our members and the employer must listen to this collective voice, take us seriously and get round a table so we can work out a better deal. Our members living costs are increasing in very real terms and their pay is a long way behind as year on year they are held to the minimum allowed in the public sector pay policy. Police staff continue to feel the pain of Police Scotlands integrationwhich has yet to deliver a fair and equatable pay model for staff and we’ll be waiting on that for a few years yet.”


After delivering the outcome of the consultative ballot on Thursday UNISON was disappointed to find that the SPA had made no provision for negotiations in the likelihood of a wholesale rejection.


“The only way forward for the Scottish Police Authority and Police Scotland is negotiation, “ said UNISON Regional Organiser Gerry Crawley, “True and meaningful negotiation that results in an offer which treats our members fairly and recognises their value rather than with the contempt they have been shown in recent years. Until the employer is ready to negotiate and sets out a clear timetable for such, UNISON will not participate in any further JNCC meetings.”


UNISON Police Staff Scotland await a reply from the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) on when they will begin negotiations.


UNISON Police Staff Scotland, the branch of UNISON representing Police Support Staff, informed the Scottish Police Authority today (8 December) that they are recommending its members reject the employers pay offer for 2016/17.

The offer made by the employer is no better than the the Scottish Government’s Public Sector Pay Policy and does not meet our reasonable demands and what our members expect. The Police Staff Branch will now run a consultative ballot over Christmas to gauge the strength of feeling of the members.

George McIrvine, Branch Secretary said, “Our members are not being paid appropriately for the work they do and the pressures they have been under since Police Scotland came into being in 2013. Average wages across the UK are on the increase.  And the rise in the cost of living, rate of inflation, National Insurance contributions are all impacting on take home pay, and yet our members are expected to cope on a miserly 1% pay rise. The employers delayed offer to our members is frankly derisory”

Gerry Crawley, UNISON regional organiser said, “There were no formal negotiations with the trade unions which has unfortunately led to this outcome. UNISON submitted a reasonable pay claim which has been rejected outright by the Scottish Police Authority. I do not think the employer really understands the day to day pressures our members are under. It is the employers’ financial mismanagement that has ultimately led to problems with budgets and Police Staff are the people who are bearing the brunt through brutal cuts. It is all the more frustrating when the Scottish Police Authority have not explored all options open to them.”

Remembering Eric

Eric Roberts was our President, but more importantly he was a loyal and true friend to so many of us

Eric Roberts


Eric Roberts, a lifelong servant of our union, and of those in greatest need, has died after a brief struggle with cancer.

He was the President of UNISON, but more importantly he was a loyal and true friend to so many of us.

Born in Litherland, a proud Scouser and Liverpool fan, Eric was a man who lived enough – and had stories to tell – for more than one lifetime. From fixing drums for the Beatles, to wine waiter, baker and pots and pans seller – Eric eventually found his way to London. And one day, seeing an ambulance shooting down Oxford Street, he decided that’s what he’d like to do.

He had found his calling. For 42 years he served the London Ambulance Service with the passion and dedication for which he became well-known, and his union as branch secretary, NEC member and – this year – our President. He was the first ambulance person to be elected as UNISON President – something that I know was a source of immense pride to Eric, his branch, his family and everyone who knew him.

Eric wasn’t someone who sought out high office. Ambition wasn’t what drove him. Instead, it was an unstoppable desire – a need – to serve people and help people. To represent them and to do his best for them.

To Eric, everyone in the union and the ambulance service had a part to play – and every day he did his job to the best of his ability, and brought out the best in others at the same time. His loyalty to this union was as unquestionable and unswerving as his love for its members.

I will miss his honesty. I will miss his infectious personality. But most of all I will miss his friendship. Eric Roberts was a good man who gave so much to so many people. Eric said upon his election as President that UNISON was the “best union in the country”, but the truth is that Eric was the best of us.

Today, our thoughts are with his children Jack and Rhian, family, friends and colleagues, as our union mourns one of our biggest personalities, most loved friends and most powerful advocates for the values that sustain our union.

Eric Roberts – I will miss you.

Dave Prentis 25 Novemeber 2016

Your tributes

UNISON is collecting tributes to Eric – if you would like to add your own please do so below or email

Justice Sub-Committee on Policing Financial Planning 2017-18 Written submission from UNISON Scotland


UNISON Scotland is the main trade union for police staffs in Scotland.

It is difficult to comment on financial planning for next year when we are still unclear what the budget provisions are for this year. In fact, it would be fair to say that we are unclear what financial planning has been undertaken, or what the outstanding budget deficit actually is. Our police staffs branch is meeting Police Scotland on Wednesday 23 November 2016 to discuss this year’s budget.

It is extraordinary in our experience for any public service to have this form of detailed discussion about a budget more than seven months into the financial year. It is all the more concerning when we understand there is a significant deficit and in recent years, due to the cosmetic target for police officer numbers, the brunt of cuts have fallen on police staffs.

Financial Impact

As Police Scotland struggles to balance the books and meet the necessary efficiency savings an atmosphere of uncertainty and a lack of a clear future for police staff continues to grow.

The quick fix solution to the service’s financial problems has been to the detriment of service to the public and our members. Business areas are quickly restructured to release staff; properties are lined up for sale with little consultation or forward planning to deliver an effective policing service.

The immediate response to the creation of Police Scotland and the budgetary demands placed on the new organisation, resulted in nearly 2000 police staff jobs shed under the auspices of a voluntary redundancy and retirement package. Many experienced and loyal workers no longer felt they were in the same job, no longer felt treated fairly and equally in relation to their police officer colleagues, and therefore chose to leave the service.

We are now informed that recruitment is needed to bolster staff such as in the Contact, Command and Control Division. We would normally welcome such much needed recruitment, but are mindful that these “new” numbers required are the same numbers of staff we had before the closure of Dumfries, Stirling, Glenrothes centres and the forthcoming closures at Dundee and Aberdeen. Public money has been spent on redundancies when the roles are very much required to meet service demand.

Our members continue to work on legacy force terms and conditions and different levels of pay for doing the same jobs across Scotland. The modernisation project staggers and delays in trying to bring all employers onto one set of terms and conditions and onto one pay scale. Next year will see the first outcome of that project, the move of members of staff onto one leave period across Scotland running from the 1st of April to the 31st of March annually. This is the one and only outcome from this project since the inception of Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority in 2013.

The worry among our members as they continue to see media coverage of the budgetary shortfalls and failings of their employer is that there will be no money to deliver a harmonisation of pay, an annual pay rise, or resources to recognise the pressures of carrying an increased workload due to reduced staffing numbers. There has been no recognition of going that extra mile, making it all work and a real concern that there is no indication of what a Voluntary Redundancy/Early Retirement Package may look like for 2017/18.

Best Value

The SPA and Police Scotland is under a statutory duty to provide Best Value .

Cuts in police staff numbers has resulted in police officers backfilling jobs of police staff, which fails the Best Value requirement in a number of ways:

  • police officers are more expensive,
  •  they don't have the specialised training for the jobs of police staff,
  • it effectively removes them from their own role,
  •  the high turnover and transience of police officers in backfilled posts breeds inconsistency and instability. Once embedded within the organisational culture and structural design this leads to inefficiency.

Any financial planning for 2017/18 needs to be based on Best Value principles and include a balanced workforce.


Our police staffs branch has had no financial update and has been excluded from finance and investment meetings, despite being a key stakeholder. Any SPA pretence about openness and transparency has been abandoned.

Our members are the service, its very backbone and yet they see no improvement in their working conditions as they continue to be the target of measures to address overspending or underfunding elsewhere. They feel they are the second class citizens in our police family.

Dave Watson 21 November 2016  


This is UNISON Scotland’s manifesto for the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections. It calls on everyone in Scotland to vote for who they think is most likely to invest in public services.

UNISON manifesto says that investing in public services essential if we are to build a sustainable economy and a decent society.

We must defend the principles which underlie public services. To build the better Scotland we all want we must invest in public services but also make them more accountable and responsive to our individual needs.

UNISON is calling for, an immediate end to the council tax freeze, a reformed progressive property tax and councils should be able to raise more of its own funding; properly funded procurement policies so the third sector is not viewed as a cheap alternative to health and local government funding; stop cutting the support for learning and administration in schools which simply burdens on other staff; a balanced police workforce and an end to the arbitary political pledge on police number; water to remain publicly owned to stop the gradual privatisation of the service; strengthen the voice of the service users and staff in the design of health services.

When launching this manifesto Lilian Macer, UNISON Scotland convenor, said, ‘Public services are an expression of all that is good whether that is the joint decision making, expression of a community, solidarity between people and generations, and the idea that we all have a mutual obligation towards each other.

Public services are not optional they are essential to a civilised society. They hold our society together and make our lives healthier safer, cleaner, more secure, and fun. If we believe in a more equal society we must invest in public services and those who deliver them.’