Police Scotland's compensation payouts hit record levels
Compensation paid out by Police Scotland has hit record levels, according to new figures.
In 2015-16 the force paid out £1.27m in damages as a result of 516 claims, up from almost £1.17m the previous year and just under £1m in 2013/14.
The figures were obtained by the Scottish Conservatives under freedom of information legislation.
Police Scotland said the compensation payments were a "tiny percentage" of their £1.1bn annual budget.
A spokesman for the force said payments had been planned and budgeted for, and the number of claims, per claimant was "very low indeed".
The figures show around £459,000 was paid as a result of employment liability claims, £351,000 in public liability claims and £461,000 in motor liability payments.
The Scottish Conservatives raised concerns about the amounts involved at a time when Police Scotland faces significant budget pressures.
In October the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) said the force was forecast to overspend its budget for the current financial year by £17.5m.
Tory chief whip John Lamont MSP said: "In an organisation the size of Police Scotland, there will always be compensation payouts of various types.
"But it's very worrying to see these payments increase at a time when the single force can least afford it.
"People will be alarmed that police are involved in incidents which prompt compensation payments on hundreds of occasions each year.
"It means every day there is at least one incident which results in taxpayers' money being used to compensate for an error or incident.
"That's far too high, and progress needs to be made on getting these numbers down."
A Police Scotland spokesman said: "Police Scotland is a large organisation with around 23,000 personnel, many of whom work in very challenging and dangerous situations and who risk their lives every day in order to protect the people of Scotland.
"The number of claims, per claimant, is very low indeed.
"With an annual budget of £1.1bn, the amount which we have paid out in compensation is a tiny percentage of that, and it has been both planned and budgeted for.
"Solicitors acting for Police Scotland ensure that a reserve is fixed in relation to each claim intimated against the chief constable.
"The reserve represents an estimate of the total costs that could potentially be expended in relation to the claim, including the sum that could eventually be paid to the claimant in damages if they were to succeed with their claim and the possible legal expenses involved.
"Proper budgetary provision is made for circumstances where damages or expenses may require to be paid in respect of such claims.
"Police Scotland seeks to recover costs from third parties involved in motor liability payments, and in 2015-16 recovered more than £76,000 from insurance companies representing motorists who caused damage to our vehicles."