Single Scots police force isn’t working

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When will the people of Scotland wake up to what is happening with our police force? The latest debacle concerning stop and search is just another example of the arrogance that is prevalent in the top echelons of the force.

Politicians wring their collective hands in horror at what has happened and wonder why the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) and the Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) have not been applying due oversight of police activity.

Firstly, the SPA is appointed by the Scottish Government and will do its bidding as long as it does not criticise the police force that was set up by the government and which clearly does not wish to see any negative reporting.

Secondly, why on earth do people believe the HMICS is independent?

The present Inspector of Constabulary is Mr Derek Penman. His own description of his current role is “leading independent inspection of Police Scotland”.

For those who do not know, Mr Penman was Deputy Chief Constable in the Central Scotland Police before being appointed as Assistant Chief Constable in the new Police Scotland.

His senior officer at that time was the current Chief Constable, Sir Stephen House, and he served under him for the best part of a year before being appointed as HMIC.

So are we really to believe that Mr Penman is able to completely detach himself from Police Scotland when one considers that many of the issues he has been inspecting and decisions made in relation to those and all sorts of policing matters during the course of his tenure may have been made by him and will certainly have been made by his colleagues, and, dare I say, friends?

Thirdly, there is no independent body to investigate allegations of serious wrongdoing by members of Police Scotland.

The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) has no remit to investigate such allegations against police.

The PIRC remit is very narrow and confined to the most serious incidents, such as deaths in custody.

Allegations of criminal wrongdoing continue to be investigated by the police themselves.

I have personal experience of serious wrongdoing by police officers which have not been properly investigated.

It is abundantly clear that there is no independent oversight of Police Scotland; it appears to be led by a Chief Constable who displays a level of arrogance rarely seen in other Chief Constables.

This apparent arrogance seems, sadly, to be shared by many of his senior officers.

The time has come, surely, to revisit the whole concept of a single police force for Scotland. At the very least there should be a root and branch review of how meaningful oversight is to be achieved if the structural status quo is to be maintained.

Senior police officers should remember that they are appointed to serve the public and ensure that their officers do so as well; their role is not to supervise their own personal fiefdom and power base.

And it is with regret that it seems to me that we could be sliding towards a police state unless there is action taken to provide that independent, meaningful and open scrutiny of the police that is required in a modern and democratic society.

DN Turnbull

Cademuir Drive

Peebles