Almost £250m needed to bring police buildings up to ‘reasonable condition’

ALMOST a quarter of a billion pounds needs to be spent to bring Police Scotland’s estate up to a “reasonable condition”, the force has said, amid mouldy carpets and leaky buildings. 

James Gray, chief financial officer of Police Scotland, said it had surveyed more than 300 buildings and found the estate to be in a “pretty poor condition”. 

He said some buildings are not even wind or watertight, and parts of them have had to be “shut down”.

Mr Gray made the comments while giving evidence to Holyrood’s Criminal Justice Committee. 

Police Scotland has compiled a report on the findings which has yet to be released, but Mr Gray gave MSPs “a flavour” of what it contains. 

He said some “immediate works” were required at a cost of a “couple of million pounds”.

He added: “But what it told us is there’s about £242 million worth of works that need to be done over the next ten years to get our estate up to ‘condition B’.

“We’re not looking to gold plate it. We’re just looking to have buildings that are a reasonable condition – condition B is the term used.”

Mr Gray said the police’s estate is “somewhere similar to what the school estate in Scotland looked like” prior to the £1.8 billion Schools for the Future programme, “so in pretty poor condition.”

He said the bulk of the buildings are at “the very bottom end” of condition B.

He added the cost would amount to £24 million a year if it was spread evenly over a decade.

Police Scotland is currently spending about £12 million a year, he said, “and that’s an awful lot more than we were doing in previous years, because our capital allocation has gone up”.

Mr Gray added: “But still, it’s some way short of what we need, in order just to get the buildings up to a condition B status.

“We’re not looking to have everything shiny and new, we’re just looking to not have mould on the carpets, or parts of the buildings that aren’t wind and watertight.

“Because we do have buildings that are not wind or watertight, where parts of the buildings have had to be shut down.”

Police Scotland’s five-year capital investment plan says it requires £466 million to push ahead with “major and essential investment”in digital systems, the consolidation and improvement of its estate and the rollout of electric vehicles.

But the Scottish Government has indicated funding will fall £218 million short of this.

In a written submission to MSPs, Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority said: “A lower settlement would require prioritisation to meet health and safety needs, legislative requirements and replacement of core equipment. 

“This would substantially eliminate our ability to deliver estates transformation or public sector co-location projects. 

“Our transition to electric vehicles would top-out at approximately 40 per cent of the fleet and only a small portion of the DDICT [Digital, Data and ICT ] projects would be able to be taken forward.”

Elsewhere, Mr Gray told MSPs the cost of policing the upcoming Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow will be “upwards of £150 million”.

He said: “We are constantly updating our projections, and especially in the lead-up as things crystallise when we get specifics around numbers of world leaders, locations – and this is changing day to day, as you’ll be aware.”

He said Police Scotland has secured more than £60 million in funding from the UK Government.

This does not include accommodation and the cost of officers from other police forces coming to Scotland to provide assistance.

Mr Gray said the UK Government had assured Police Scotland it will suffer “no financial detriment”.

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992