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Police homeless in Highlands

May 19th 2009
Three policemen in Scotland are homeless because of high house prices. The officers, who work in the West Highlands, are unable to afford homes in the area they have been posted to on their £21,000 a year salary. One is sleeping on a boat, the other in a van and the third has recently registered himself as homeless. The policemen, who serve the Northern Constabulary, had no option but to transfer to a new areas when they were told to, and struggled to find somewhere to live in their new posts. PC Steven Mackenzie, a former soldier of seven years, registered himself homeless in April. PC Laurence Knighton spends most of his nights sleeping in the back of a transit van or crashing at a friend's house. Meanwhile, PC Willie McGilvray is living on a yacht off Fort William as he is posted away from his home in Skye with his family, but is unable to afford a house in the area. None of the three officers would comment, but the Scottish Police Federation has slammed their treatment. A spokesman for the federation said: "There is something seriously wrong here if there are police officers struggling with accommodation. They have a hard enough job of it as it is." Danny Alexander, Liberal Democrat spokesman for work and pensions, said: "The idea of a policeman making himself homeless in the place he is serving is outrageous. "If police officers cannot afford to find a house in the communities they are serving then radical action is needed to address that." A Northern Constabulary spokesman said: "All officers are paid in accordance with national regulations. "Entitlement to free housing was removed nationally in 1994 and restricted to circumstances when the force can legally allow officers to occupy houses rent free."

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