POLICE Scotland is facing a £15 million hit this year due to the coronavirus crisis, amid ongoing concerns over the force’s ballooning deficit.
Chief financial officer James Gray said its income from policing events and airports has dropped by £8m while a further £7m has been spent on personal protective equipment (PPE).
Further losses are expected next year while the general pressure on public finances may cause “challenges” when it comes to its overall funding from the Scottish Government.
Police Scotland faces a budget deficit of £44m this financial year – taking into account the £8m fall in income – while a “highly indicative” baseline deficit of £50m is estimated in 2021/22.
This is the cost of around 1,100 employees.
The Scottish Police Authority (SPA), which oversees the force, said it does not see “any easy means” of reducing this over the next two to three years.
In written evidence to Holyrood’s Justice Sub-Committee on Policing, it added: “In fact it seems more likely only to increase.”
Giving evidence to the committee, Mr Gray said one of the biggest impacts of the coronavirus crisis “has been a reduced level of income as a result of policing less events”.
He said: “That has had an £8m impact on the budget, and we would expect that to continue into 2021/22.
“There will be some residual impact around airport passenger numbers and the number of events that are held. There is a risk around that.
“We’ve also seen additional costs in relation to PPE which have been quite significant.
“In total, for this financial year, we’re expecting an overall pressure on the budget of over £7m, in addition to £8m of lost income which had already been built into the budget in March.
“So when you take those two together, then the impact of the policing budget in the current financial year has been £15m, and as I say I would expect some impact to continue into 2021/22, which will also contribute to the difficulties in trying to find a suitable budget to be set next March.
“So I am concerned…