NICOLA Sturgeon has said the Conservatives have a “nerve” to criticise her Government’s funding of Scottish policing considering the Tories’ record in England and the money they have “robbed” from Scotland.

At First Minister’s Questions yesterday, Scottish Tory leader Jackson Carlaw highlighted the condition of police station buildings as evidence of insufficient investment.

It follows comments made by Scottish Police Authority (SPA) vice-chairman David Crichton that there is a “structural deficit” in the policing budget. Sturgeon suggested it was Carlaw’s party that was guilty of underfunding police services in the UK.

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The First Minister said: “I do think that Jackson Carlaw has something of a nerve to raise issues like this because before I address the issue directly, let me just remind Jackson Carlaw and the chamber that it was the Conservative Party that reduced the resource budget of this Government by £1.5 billion, that’s 5% in real terms, since 2010.

“It’s also the Conservatives who have robbed the Scottish police service of £125 million in VAT that should never have been claimed. But despite all of that, since 2016 the annual budget for policing in Scotland has increased by more than £80m, bringing it to £1.2bn in this year.”

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She added: “The capital budget of the service has increased in this year alone by 52% to support the roll-out of mobile technology. So we are investing in police officers, also of course maintaining 1000 more police officers in our communities, while the Tories have cut 20,000 from the streets in England.

“So we’ll take no lectures from the Conservatives on matters of public services and as we prepare our budget for the year ahead, our priority will continue to be investment in public services and we’ll leave Jackson Carlaw to argue for tax cuts for the highest paid in our country.”