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Police spent tens of thousands keeping details secret

28 Dec 2017

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Police Scotland has spent tens of thousands of pounds in the last three years on legal costs to prevent information being released to the public, it has emerged.

Since 2015/16, the organisation – which the SNP created with the aim of being more transparent and accountable – spent £77,493 on challenging Freedom of Information requests.

The costs include a £63,000 bill for challenging Scotland’s Information Commissioner on the release of details involving Covert Human Intelligence Sources.

That case was eventually lost, meaning police had to cover the judicial expenses of the commissioner.

In addition, £11,634 was spent resisting a call from the information commissioner who’d ordered police to hand over CCTV in relation to a criminal case.

And an appeal against the commissioner on facts surrounding a death cost the single force £2772.

Shadow justice secretary Liam Kerr said, considering Police Scotland continually claimed it was strapped for cash, the spending on legal fees was “excessive”.

It’s the latest example of the single force being criticised on its levels of transparency.

At the beginning of December, Audit Scotland rebuked the organisation for failing to properly declare payments made to senior staff by the Scottish Police Authority.

Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary Liam Kerr said:

“These revelations are particularly embarrassing for an organisation which is supposed to be leading the way in transparency and accountability.

“People will think that Police Scotland should respect the rulings of Scotland’s Information Commissioner, not spend tens of thousands fighting them in court.

“This is all money which could have been invested in the frontline and supporting hardworking officers.

“Instead, it’s been squandered on legal fees.

“With this level of waste, it’s no wonder Police Scotland finds it difficult to make ends meet.”