On the 4th September 2010, I attended the SNP National Assembly in
two things I proposed at that event were a national Police force and a national
fire service. Given the size of Scotland,
I was confident if done properly these national services would be able to work
To sidetrack for a second, the SNP idea for integrating British Transport Police with Police Scotland I don’t agree with, this measure would be needed if
had become independent. In stage two of my idea for Police reform, all law
enforcement agencies would come under the one umbrella and the Police would
have a phased in approached towards an armed police force.
This would be needed due to the small size of what would be a standing Scottish military, therefore people experiences in weapon training and handling would act as a back up to the military in times of national emergency, but takes time to be proficient.
was rushed through; the reason for this was that the SNP Government where all
off chasing independence when they should have been at their desks doing their
paid jobs. Kenny MacAskill, the ‘justice minister’ wasn’t a supporter and given
the Pig’s ear that Police Scotland ended up as, he gets part of the blame.
Any country which is civilised needs a police service; everyone recognises that as a self evident. That being said, the service needs to be run properly and that comes down to leadership and culture. When Police Scotland emerged the structures were wrong and I have to say I wouldn’t have had Chief Constable Sir Stephen House as my first round draft pick. Stephen House had to get the service up and running in too short a time span, that wasn’t his fault, it was the fault of the SNP. As to what was expected of him and the services that again was the fault of the SNP. The Police should and need to be effectively out with the control of politicians on an operational level.
Politicians however need and should have an oversight role, in my idea for a national force; there would be a triple lock of accountability, local boards, national board and new Justice 3 committee. Minor concerns could be handled by the local boards, if something arose that was of a more serious nature then it could be passed to the national board. Justice 3 would only step in if something was of such significance that government intervention was the only remedy.
There have been numerous stories in the public domain which have called into question how the Police service is operating. This has led to opposition politicians rounding on Chief Constable Sir Stephen House and senior Police Scotland management. One such concern is a critical report into the force’s use of stop and search. If the Police have to stop and search someone they should have reasonable cause, not because officers have been given a target to meet and if it is not met it could affect their chances of advancement in the service.
Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has told the Scottish Police Federation (SPF) his party no longer had confidence in Sir Stephen House. I wouldn’t say although there are major concerns, it is too early to talk about replacing House, if you are getting rid of him, you have to do an entire clear out. Rennie said politicians had “too often” been told things on a list of controversial issues only to discover they were “untrue”.
We don’t expect the Police to lie, and we absolutely should demand that lying to politicians is strictly out of bounds. The problem with lying is that one, you have to remember it forever, and secondly it always comes out in the end. Labour leader Jim Murphy and Conservative leader Ruth Davidson at present aren’t calling for the chief constable’s departure but instead have expressed concerns about leadership and oversight which is pretty standard.
In what must appear to be the ‘kiss of death’, unpopular First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she still has confidence in Stephen House but qualified that remark by saying no chief constable should be “a law unto themselves”.
This is called hedging your bets, if the heat gets too much and the SNP look weak on law and order, Stephen House will be an expandable asset, however it is as I said rather early to be talking about replacement, the phrase, ‘you broke it, you bought it’ comes to mind.
In what must be another in the series of blunders, Nicola Sturgeon said she did not agree with her political opponents about a lack of accountability, which tends to suggest to me at least, ‘too wee, too poor and too stupid’ on her part. How many blunders, mismanagement and lies would it take for Sturgeon to recognise a problem staring her in the face?
Given her track record at health which could be characterised as poor and patchy, she isn’t best placed to talk about recognising accountability is she?
SPF chairman Brian Docherty made some points which I would agree with, further cuts to police budgets should be stopped and that the culture of targets is counter productive, the police service isn’t a business on the front line.
“Policing cannot be explained in pure statistical terms for what is measurable is not always meaningful and the meaningful is not always measurable. Police statistics have become something of a ‘newspeak’ for the way in which we quantify success. They demand swathes of resources and if things keep going as they currently are we will soon have more people counting than we will actually delivering the job”.
Unfortunately Police Scotland cannot be taken offline and fixed, so the problems have to be sorted out internally as hey do along, but what does it say that front line officers are still under the impression that volume targets exist for stop and search?
It ends to such to me that route and branch reform is needed not just of Police Scotland but also of the Police Board and if that means some people connected to the SNP have to be replaced then Nicola will have to find them a park bench to sit on with the same payday naturally!
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University