Justice Secretary accuses Tory MSP of ‘crocodile tears’ over police funding

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf has hit back at opposition MSPs over claims Police Scotland’s fleet of vehicles is not fit for purpose.

A freedom of information request published by the Liberal Democrats on Sunday highlighted more than 250 police cars are over a decade old.

It also indicated a total of 870 cars, around a quarter of the fleet, have driven 100,000 miles or more, with 126 covering between 150,000 and 200,000 miles.

Police Scotland car
An FOI indicated Police Scotland has more than 250 cars that are over a decade old (Joe Giddens/PA)

Speaking at Holyrood on Tuesday, Scottish Conservative MSP Liam Kerr asked the Justice Secretary whether he thought it was acceptable that officers were having to apprehend criminals in vehicles “held together with duct tape”.

Mr Yousaf responded by accusing the Tory MSP of “crocodile tears”, having refused to support the Scottish Government’s budget, which was passed earlier this year after an agreement was reached with the Greens.

“Well, complete and utter crying crocodile tears from a Tory MSP that of course when we brought forward the capital budget increase of 52% , he and his colleagues voted against that budget,” Mr Yousaf said.

“£100 million resource protection up until 2021 and Liam Kerr and his party voted against it.”

Mr Yousaf also accused the UK Government of “pinching” £125 million in VAT money from Police Scotland and said Mr Kerr had done “hee-haw” about it.

The Justice Secretary added total Scottish Government funding to the Scottish Police Authorirty (SPA) for 2019-20 would increase by £42.3 million, bringing the annual policing budget to over £1.2 billion and suggested that had proposals by the Tories been implemented, the Police Scotland fleet would have been far worse off.

“Police officers wouldn’t be allowed to go around in police cars, they’d be riding around in rickshaws,” said Mr Yousaf.

“The average fleet age is five years old, the average unmarked police car has mileage of 57,00 miles, not 200,000 miles, and the overall vehicle availability is 96.4% against a benchmark of 95% in the rest of the UK.

“Of course, budgets will be constrained, no doubt in significant part down to the decade of austerity imposed on us by the Conservative Party.

“So instead of carping from the sidelines, crying those crocodile tears, how about he supports a budget that we’ve put forward of a 52% capital uplift and then of course, we’ll continue to invest in the police while his party continues to decimate the police.”

Scottish Labour MSP Daniel Johnson said papers submitted to the SPA board last week – indicating a £56.2m gap between the police’s proposed capital spending and Scottish Government funding – exposes issues within the capital budget which goes “far beyond” the fleet.

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