EAST Renfrewshire politician Jackson Carlaw has claimed the draft Scottish budget is "short-changing" the police service.

In his opening First Minister's Questions since being elected as leader of the Scottish Conservatives, the Eastwood MSP told First Minister Nicola Sturgeon the settlement for Police Scotland would not be enough, echoing letters sent from senior officers and representatives.

Police Scotland, the Scottish Police Federation (SPF) and the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents (ASPS) have all written to the Justice Sub-Committee on Policing to voice their discontent at the settlement.

Ms Sturgeon said the Tories had "a cheek" to raise issues of underfunding, due to the austerity imposed by the UK Government since 2010.

The First Minister also said the Scottish Government was open to listening to "credible proposals" made by opposition parties on changes to the budget, which she said the Tories have yet to do.

Ms Sturgeon said David Page, a deputy chief officer at Police Scotland, had "welcomed" an increase in resource funding, with the force given £17million more than expected.

But Mr Page stated in the same letter that "the 2020/21 draft budget continues the long-term trend of Police Scotland being structurally underfunded."

Mr Carlaw said: "It's quite clear that neither she nor her Government have come anywhere close to meeting the budget allocation that frontline officers and the SPA believe is needed to ensure a sustainable policing service."

The First Minister replied: "Jackson Carlaw is the representative of a party in the rest of the UK that cut police numbers by 20,000, so I think he should reflect on that.

"I would remind the chamber that the Tories have presided over a real-terms cut of the Scottish budget over the last decade of £1.5billion."

Mr Carlaw said the Scottish Government was in line for a £96million funding boost in Barnett consequentials, asking: "Why is (Ms Sturgeon) short-changing Scotland's police officers?"

The First Minister responded: "The draft budget increases Police Scotland's budget by £42million.

"If you look at the capital budget, in 2016/17, Police Scotland's capital budget was £20million. In the draft budget that was just published, it was £40 million. In other words, it has doubled in the space of a couple of years."

Budget negotiations are ongoing, with the final passage of the Bill expected on March 5.