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Police body says public safety will not be compromised as action over pay begins

Police Scotland officers are staging action over a pay dispute (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Police Scotland officers are staging action over a pay dispute (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Public safety will not be compromised as police officers begin their “most overt demonstration of action” in more than 100 years amid an ongoing dispute over pay, the Scottish Police Federation (SPF) has said.

The organisation, which represents officers, said the force will be withdrawing its “goodwill” over a “derisory” £565 pay rise offer.

The sum was rejected by the governing body of the SPF, representing rank-and-file officers, last week.

By law, officers cannot take industrial action but, as of 5pm on Friday, they will charge for all overtime and refuse to begin shifts early or take radio equipment home when their duty ends.

SPF general secretary Calum Steele said he believed that if strike action was an available option, “an overwhelming majority” would have chosen to walk out.

“Such has been the level of anger and disquiet given settlements and offers that have been given elsewhere and particularly because of the lack of rights that are available to police officers when it comes to trying to resolve many of these industrial disputes,” he said in an interview with BBC Scotland.

“The long-term aspiration of anyone that works in any trade union, or any police trade union-type body, has got to be to secure the maximum possible rights for the members that they represent.”

Mr Steele insisted anyone requiring police support, such as victims of crime, will still receive the same service, despite the action going ahead.

He added: “We are simply looking to reinforce the fact that there’s so much goodwill on the service that’s taken advantage of.”

Police Scotland said it was committed to seeking a pay settlement through the Police Negotiating Board, with talks set to resume on Monday.

When asked about how long the dispute will go on for, Mr Steele said “hopefully not too much longer”, adding: “The fact that we’re back here around the negotiating table, I would suggest that it has had the desired, sobering effect in bringing the parties together.”

He added: “It’s pretty important that our members are able to continue to demonstrate their frustration.

“Hopefully that will act as a reminder, during the discussions that are hopefully kicking off on Monday afternoon, of just how important an issue this is for police officers.”

Earlier, in a letter to Chief Constable Iain Livingstone, the SPF general secretary said the action being taken was a “manifestation of the strength of feeling of our members of the utter contempt this pay offer represents to them”.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has urged those involved to “work together constructively” in order that a “fair and affordable pay increase can be agreed”.

Pressed on the issue in Holyrood on Thursday, she said that Justice Secretary Keith Brown has had “constructive” discussions with the SPF in recent days.

The action comes as officers in Glasgow face a busy weekend with the Orange Order marches set to draw thousands of people to the city centre, prompting about 30 road closures.

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