A union has claimed Police Scotland is in such “dire financial straits” officers are being sent to buy equipment from charity shops.
The Scottish Police Federation’s Calum Steele said the “ridiculous” situation was due to a “lack of funding” which was “strangling” the force’s ability to protect the public.
Other allegations made by the union chief include dog handlers being told to stop mid-trail to avoid overtime payments, as well as victims of crime being treated “like unwanted wedding presents” as they were “passed from officer to officer to officer”.
“Senior officers, the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) and government are happily kidding the public on that everything in the garden is rosy but even the most superficial scratching of the surface reveals a completely different picture,” Mr Steele claimed
In a statement posted on the police federation website, Mr Steele added: “The Police Service of Scotland is in such dire financial straits that it is sending officers to charity shops to source equipment that you could pick up for a couple of pounds in most supermarkets.
“That is but one of the ridiculous yet brutal realities of a lack of funding for what is the first and last emergency service.”
He cited one instance of officers being sent to buy car blinds to protect a child from “needless intrusion” during a journey to a police station.
Despite being available in supermarket for a couple of pounds, officers were sent to “scour charity shops to see if they could source them cheaper”, Mr Steele said.
He continued: “General and criminal inquiries are passed from officer to officer to officer, grossly diminishing the care for victims and increasing the likelihood of mistakes being made and evidence being lost.”
Mr Steele said he thought the situation would be worse if the single force had not been created, but he said that alone was “not good enough”.
Deputy Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick dismissed Mr Steele’s claims about dog handlers and added that “officers do not regularly or routinely purchase items from charity shops”.
She said it was “highly commendable” the officers had purchased the sun shades “to protect the identity of a vulnerable witness”.
She added: “Police Scotland acknowledges the current financial challenges and is working closely with the Scottish Police Authority and Scottish Government to develop sustainable solutions.
“Whatever these financial challenges, Police Scotland is committed to delivering effective and efficient local policing services at the heart of every community, supported by national specialist resources when required.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman added they were “committed to protecting the police revenue budget in real terms” as well as investing an addition £155million.