Nicola Sturgeon in denial over police reform - Rennie

Scottish MP Willie Rennie . Picture: Toby Williams
Scottish MP Willie Rennie . Picture: Toby Williams
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Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie accused Nicola Sturgeon of being “in denial about the consequences of her government’s police reforms” following her comments on the deaths of M9 crash couple John Yuill and Lamara Bell.

Ms Sturgeon revealed earlier this week that the felt the incident was the lowest point in her career so far as First Minister, saying “you do feel these things very deeply”.

Police failed to respond to reports of a car going off the motorway for three days, which the First Minister described as a “dreadful failure”.

Mr Rennie said: “I share Nicola Sturgeon’s remorse about the deaths of Lamara and John.

“I felt sick to my stomach when I was first told what happened.

“Expressing remorse does not absolve the leaders of our country from responsibility for what happens when they implement reckless reforms and fail to heed serious and well-founded warnings.

“The centralisation of the police imposed a suffocating target culture. Backfilling of specialist civilian roles by uniformed police officers and the rushed closure of control rooms created the circumstances that led to the tragedy of the M9 crash.

“I don’t say this with the benefit of hindsight as I warned the First Minister and Parliament of these problems.

“I was approached by control room staff and police officers weeks before the crash that something serious was about to go wrong.

“I took that information to the top of government.

“This was no normal error that happens from time to time with our public services.

“These events were as a direct result of government decisions on centralisation and backfilling of specialist civilian roles by uniformed officers.

“The reform of the police was reckless and irresponsible. The SNP still don’t 
understand that and we can’t be sure they have learnt the lessons.”