HALF of Scotland’s top police officers do not have the mandatory qualification needed for dealing with major incidents such as terrorist attacks and natural disasters, it has been revealed.
The senior Police Scotland chiefs have not passed a training course deemed essential for dealing with critical and often unforeseen incidents.
It is understood four of the eight serving Assistant Chief Constables (ACCs) do not have the Strategic Command Course (SCC) qualification. This is despite SNP ministers making the SCC mandatory for senior officers in 2008 and the three-month course being described as “essential” in the job advert for the £116,000-a-year ACC roles.
Among those without the top qualifications are Police Scotland’s lead officer on counter-terrorism and another senior figure making preparations for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. With Scotland also hosting the Ryder Cup this year, concerns have been raised about how well-equipped the officers are if something goes wrong.
A police source said: “This will hack off a lot of people in the force. You can’t become a sergeant without passing your sergeant’s exam so why should it be any different further up the tree?”
In 2008, the Scottish Government ruled that the SCC would become a mandatory qualification for anyone applying to become an ACC or higher rank.
The 2012 job adverts for the new ACC roles stated it was essential applicants have successfully completed a relevant police SCC – but police sources say several serving senior officers do not have these qualifications.
ACC Ruaraidh Nicolson, who is responsible for combatting organised crime and terrorism, has neither the PNAC nor SCC.
The man in charge of local policing in West Scotland, ACC Wayne Mawson, has passed his PNAC but not the SCC.
Two further Police Scotland ACCs do not have the SCC, but are only temporary appointments. They are Campbell Thomson, in charge of local policing in northern Scotland, and Derek Robertson, second in command for policing the Commonwealth Games.
Labour’s justice spokesman, Graeme Pearson – who has both the PNAC and SCC qualifications from his time as director general of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency – said: “I think it is unfortunate the service has not taken on the requirement for the SCC even though they said at the outset it was necessary for every senior officer… it has to be applied.”
A Scottish Police Authority spokesman said: “Based on the applications received in response to the ACC job advert, advice was taken from HMICS who deemed that other qualifications listed in applications could be classed as ‘relevant’ to the SCC.”