First Minister questions 5 October 2023 relating to Police Scotland: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Information requested

At First Minister’s Questions on 5th October 2023, Humza Yousaf said this in answering a question from Douglas Ross.

“… his post-truth and his lies about the police service simply will not wash here in Scotland.”

Asked by the Presiding Officer to apologise for his accusation that Douglas Ross had lied about the police service, the First Minister refused, and would only apologise for any offence his remarks may have caused.

For each of Douglas Ross’s lies about the police service, please provide:

1. The precise words spoken by Douglas Ross in the Scottish Parliament on 5th October 2023 which were false.

2. All information held by the Scottish Government which demonstrate that Douglas Ross’s words were false.


1. I can advise that the information you seek is reasonably obtainable. This is a formal notice under section 25(1) of the FOISA that the information you have requested is already available to you.

The Scottish Parliament website provides full details of the exchange on 5 October 2023, between Douglas Ross MSP and the First Minister, during First Ministers Question Time. The Scottish Parliament Official Report from that date documents the statements made by Mr Ross.

2. Douglas Ross raised questions about police numbers and suggested Police Scotland had been forced to cut numbers to the lowest level on record.
The recruitment and deployment of officers and staff is a matter for the Chief Constable. As at the 30 June 2023, Scotland has 16,600 police officers, which is over 350 more officers than in 2007. Police Scotland has recruited almost 600 officers this year alone and around 1,480 new recruits have joined Police Scotland since the beginning of 2022.

As of 31 March 2023, Scotland has 30 officers per 10,000 population in comparison to 25 in England and Wales.

Douglas Ross suggested that budget cuts meant that Police Scotland would need to close a further 30 stations cross Scotland and asked which stations are being closed.
The Scottish Government is aware of the Police Scotland 2019 Estate Strategy that seeks to deliver modern, fit for purpose police buildings which are co-located with strategic partners, and which meet the needs of 21st century operational policing. The Estate Strategy acknowledges that some parts of the estate fail to meet current or future needs and outlines plans to rationalise and modernise the estate to ensure police and staff are in suitable accommodation which replaces outdated and underused properties.. At the same time Police Scotland is reinvesting in properties, principally through colocation, to deliver modern premises with partners which should enable the delivery of more joined up public services. To date over 60 co-locations have been delivered. These are operational decisions for the Chief Constable, under the scrutiny of the Scottish Police Authority.

Douglas Ross suggested that Police Scotland had no option but to stop investigating every crime and asked which crimes.
The investigation of crime and decisions on pilot projects, such as the one in the North East, are operational matters for the Chief Constable. However, the Scottish Government is assured that Police Scotland will always assess a reported crime under “THRIVE” – assessing Threat, Harm, Risk, Investigation, Vulnerability and Engagement. In those cases where there is judged to be no risk or threat (and where there is no proportionate possible line of enquiry to follow), staff will inform the caller that their report has been filed and supply a crime reference number. No further action will be taken unless further evidence or lines of enquiry become available.

The Scottish Government would urge people to continue to report all crimes to Police Scotland who will place the individual needs of the victim at the centre of their decisions while ensuring that effective prioritisation is in place. Police Scotland remains focused on keeping communities safe from harm and investigating criminal activity.

Douglas Ross made reference to cuts in the Police Scotland budget.
The Scottish Government has not cut the policing budget but has increased police funding year-on-year since 2016-17, investing more than £11.6 billion since the creation of Police Scotland in 2013.

The Scottish Government is investing £1.45bn in policing in 2023-24 which is an increase of £80m to Police Scotland’s resource budget.

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