Suspended police officers paid £1.3m in past 5 years

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MORE than £1.3 million has been paid out in salaries to suspended police officers in Lothian and Borders over the past five years.

New figures show that across Scotland, a total of 170 officers under investigation for misconduct raked in almost £5m in wages despite being told to stay away from work.

Politicians branded the figures “unacceptable” and called for action to ensure cases of suspended officers are resolved quickly.

Lothian and Borders Police came under fire earlier this year after it emerged Special Branch officer Greig Anderson, 37, received £32,000 a year for three and a half years until he finally quit in May.

During his suspension he was able to move house, become a dad and start training for a new job as a cabbie – while still pocketing his full pay packet.

He was convicted of “neglect of duty” after seized police evidence, including cocaine and cannabis, was found at two properties he was linked with.

Lothian and Borders chief inspector Allison Strachan, who was suspended in 2010 and fined £400 in April for illegally trawling police databases for personal information, continued to receive her £80,000 a year salary until she resigned last month.

Altogether, Lothian and Borders paid suspended officers £1,323,000 over the same period, second only to Strathclyde which handed almost £2m to officers under investigation.

Scottish Tory chief whip John Lamont said: “Everyone knows police budgets are under pressure and this is an unacceptable amount of money to be throwing away.

“Of course certain procedures have to be in place when it comes to disciplinary action which leads to suspension, but the public will wonder exactly what is going on for it to reach this level of payment.

“Systems need to be in place so that if an officer is suspended and being paid at the same time, the case is resolved as quickly as possible.”

Lewis Macdonald, justice spokesman for Scottish Labour said: “It is essential that cases where a police officer’s conduct is called into question should be investigated thoroughly.

“However, investigations should also be done efficiently so that public money is not squandered.”

A spokesman for the Association of Chief Police officers in Scotland, said: “These investigations are, by their nature, often complex and can be protracted.

“We want to reduce the time taken as far as we can to meet the interests of the public and all involved and are working to do so.”