Kenneth Gibson MSP has called on the new UK Tory Government to refund the £125 million paid by Police Scotland in VAT between 2013 and 2018.
VAT was not imposed on any other UK force over those five years.
Kenneth, who raised this issue in the Scottish Parliament, said the Prime Minister is “playing catch up" with the SNP on policing.
Home Office figures show that forces in England and Wales lost 20,564 officers (14.1%) as a result of UK Tory-Lib Dem Coalition Government and subsequently Tory Government cuts between March 2010 and March 2019.
In contrast, the SNP Government increased the number of police officers in Scotland by 1,017 despite Tory austerity. The total number of police officers in Scotland was 17,251 as of 31 March 2019, an increase of 6.3% on what we inherited in 2007.
Under the SNP, Scotland has more police officers per head of population than England and Wales. We have 32 officers per 10,000 population in Scotland, compared to around 21 officers per 10,000 in England and Wales. No opposition party pledged to increase officer numbers at the last Scottish Parliament election in 2016.
While knife crime and other crimes have soared in England and Wales under the Tories, the recent Scottish Crime and Justice Survey shows that crime has fallen by more than two-fifths (42%) under the SNP Government.
Commenting, Kenneth Gibson MSP said:
"The UK Government’s U-turn on police numbers in England and Wales is long-overdue, although reduced training and infrastructure capacity means it could take years to implement. Even if delivered in full, it won't undo the damage the Tories have done through years of starving the police down south of vital funding.
"Mr Johnson is playing catch up with the SNP's record on policing. While the Tories have slashed police numbers by 20,564 in England and Wales, the SNP increased police officer numbers in Scotland by 1,017 and ensuring that we had the police officers necessary to deliver a 42% fall in crime.
"The SNP's commitment to Scottish policing is clear. The UK Tory Government must match it and start by repaying the £125 million still owed to Police Scotland in overdue VAT refunds."