POLICE Scotland has spent more than £220,000 in less than two years on non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), with the money being paid mostly to serving police officers and their lawyers.

Figures obtained via a Freedom of Information (FOI) request show that between September 2019 and August this year, the national force signed seven NDAs.

The official response to the FOI request stated: “Since September 13, 2019, to August 5, 2021, there have been seven non-disclosure agreements in total. One involved a police constable. One involved a chief inspector. One involved an inspector. Three involved civilian employees. One involved a member of the public.

“Subjects covered by, and resulting in NDAs: one involved a reparation action; the remaining six involved matters relating to employment.”

The National can reveal that all seven NDAs involved women, suggesting sex discrimination may have been involved.

The FOI request was submitted by freelance law journalist Peter Cherbi who campaigns against official secrecy.

He said: “Police Scotland are effectively buying the silence of victims of wrongdoing, potential criminality and issues raised by whistleblowers which should be revealed in the public interest.

“There are also clear indications of a gender disparity with figures revealing all recent signatories to non-disclosure agreements are women.

“The scale of non-disclosure agreements at Police Scotland, including the subjects relating to these NDAs, huge costs, pay-offs and what these NDAs cover up should be subject of a thorough Justice Committee investigation – where victims of wrongdoing by police should give evidence.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Non-disclosure agreements between Police Scotland and their officers and staff are a matter for the Chief Constable and the Scottish Police Authority.”

A police spokesperson said: “Police Scotland is the second largest police service in the UK and covers a third of its landmass. Our 23,000 officers and staff often work in challenging circumstances, but always with the aim of improving the lives of the public. Any compensation payment is dealt with on a case-by-case basis and with a view to securing best value for the public purse.

“Confidentiality agreements are recommended by the independent arbitration service ACAS and used by both claimants’ and employers’ solicitors to record the agreement reached between parties.”

Two years ago, STV News revealed 11 NDA payouts by Police Scotland totalling nearly £900,000.