By Hannah Ewan
SCOTTISH police pay has soared by £40m in the past three years, despite officer numbers increasing by just 160.
It means taxpayers have shelled out £250,000 for every extra police officer taken on since 2008.
New figures show the total wage bill for Scottish police is £713m – giving an average salary of £41,000 per officer.
Police forces have managed to cut overall costs by around £80m but the revelations about the wage bill are likely to increase pressure for a single force inScotland.
Figures released yesterday in the Scottish Police Performance Framework show that there were 17,169 full-time equivalent officers inScotlandin 2008-09, earning a combined total of £672.7m.
By 2010-11, that number increased to 17,328 officers and a wage bill of £713.23m.
George McIrvine, who represents Tayside Police support staff for trade union Unison, described the spending on salaries as “economic madness”.
In order to maintain officer numbers, Mr McIrvine said support staff on lower wages are being allowed to leave, then replaced by officers.
“In the last round of voluntary redundancy, 55 posts went,” he said. “That was on top of the 53 that had gone before that and were not replaced.
“The reality is that support staff have to take on more work or that police officers who earn double are taken off the streets and filling these posts.
“It should be a balanced police force, but they have to maintain these extra 1,000 extra officers over five years.”
He added: “It is economic madness – as a taxpayer it annoys me that we are being asked to pay double for people who don’t do the job as well.”
Matthew Elliott, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’Alliancesaid: “The public want the police budget spent on bobbies on the beat not officers stuck behind their desks.
“Like all areas of Government the police have to make savings, it’s a complete waste of taxpayers’ money to allow highly paid officers to be stuck back at the station instead of out on the front line doing the job they are trained for at great expense.”
John Lamont, MSP for Roxburgh & Berwickshire and Conservative member of the Justice Committee
“When Scottish Conservatives secured 1,000 extra police on the beat inScotland, it was a measure taken to provide a more visible police force.
“However, if some of these new officers are taking on support staff roles filling out paperwork then it would undo a lot of the good work that was intended by this policy.
“Far too many hours of police work are already taken up by filling in forms – time that should be dedicated to reducing crime.
“That officers are potentially taking on more office roles is unacceptable, especially if it is resulting in the large increase in wages over the last three years.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said the stark increase in salary costs and the need to maintain police numbers prove the need for police reform.
The intention is to mergeScotland’s eight police forces into one.
The Scottish Government claims this move, combined with similar merges of fire and rescue services, will save £130m a year and £1.7bn over 15 years.