SPF: ‘Government has grossly underestimated Hate Crime Bill policing costs’

Ministers have vastly underestimated the policing costs associated with the Hate Crime Bill, a union representing front line officers has warned.

The Scottish Police Federation (SPF) told Holyrood’s Finance and Constitution Committee that the anticipated costs for the police service outlined in the bill’s Financial Memorandum are a “gross underestimation”.

Responding to the statement, campaigners said the government must “call time on its hate crime plans”.

Scottish Police Federation

A submission to the Committee from the SPF, published in the last few days, states:

“The SPF considers that the anticipated costs for the police service (£50,000 for training plus a share of £50,000 for ICT changes) as laid out in the financial memorandum to represent a gross underestimation of the costs that this Bill will, if passed, create for the Police Service of Scotland (PSoS).”

It goes on to say that the new law would require several days of training for police officers, at huge cost to the Scottish taxpayer. The groups adds:

“Given the sheer scale of emotion that discussions on the hate provisions of the Bill are capable of, and have already generated the SPF would consider that as a minimum police officers would require detailed training (spanning several days) to learn from various groups and bodies on why their particular point of view required to be considered.

“Training of this scale results in abstractions that require to be covered at additional cost. A very conservative estimate of the cost of a single day’s training for every police officer in Scotland is £3.5 – £4M.”

The SPF also warns that several policing costs are completely unaccounted for in the Memorandum, including the cost of investigating complaints against officers, responding to freedom of information requests and an increase in officers being asked to give evidence in court.

Police Scotland

Police Scotland also warned of significant ‘unquantified’ costs associated with the draft legislation in a separate submission to the Committee.

On the training of officers, the submission provides a “total estimated training cost of £932,000” – almost 20 times more than the Government’s estimate of £50,000. However, it adds that the cost of ongoing training and refresher courses and increased investigations are not possible to ‘quantify’ at present.

Free to Disagree response

Jamie Gillies, spokesman for the Free to Disagree campaign, commented:

“These statements by the Scottish Police Federation and Police Scotland are quite simply astonishing. Financial estimates outlined by the government appear to be miles off target. Ministers are offering pocket change when police require millions of pounds.

“We’ve already heard that the Hate Crime Bill could have significant implications for police officers in their day-to-day work. The SPF previously warned that officers would be asked to ‘determine free speech’, devastating the ‘legitimacy of the police service’ in the eyes of the public.

“The government’s proposals are unpopular, undemocratic and – it would now appear – unquantifiable in terms of their impact on public services. It’s time for the government to call time on its hate crime plans and ditch Part 2 of the bill.”


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