Police Scotland watchdog representation request rejected

Picture: John Devlin
Picture: John Devlin
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THE POLICE watchdog has turned down calls for officers to be represented on a panel set up to review the accountability of Scotland’s national force.

The Scottish Police Authority (SPA) is carrying out the examination of Police Scotland’s governance arrangements at the request of justice secretary Michael Matheson.

A reference group appointed by the watchdog includes prominent figures from Scottish public life, including a senior lawyer and a veteran of local ­government.

But Niven Rennie, president of the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents, said he was concerned that there is no one from a police background.

Mr Rennie said: “It’s a reasonably good panel but it lacks someone who can give police input. If you were going to discuss how newspapers are run, it would be very strange not to have someone who knows how newspapers operate.

“There needs to be an element of knowledge from the [police] service. There are a number of people who could fulfil that role, but somebody from a policing background needs to make a contribution.”

The SPA review was ordered following multiple controversies including widespread use of stop-and-search, a roll-out of armed police throughout Scotland, the death in custody of Sheku Bayoh and control room problems linked to two deaths on the M9.

The reference group includes Moi Ali, who handled complaints against judges as Scotland’s first judicial complaints reviewer before she resigned complaining the role was toothless and poorly funded.

Christine McLintock, the president of the Law Society of Scotland and Pat Watters, the former long-serving president of council umbrella body Cosla, are also on the group.

Graeme Pearson, Labour’s justice spokesman, said: “I don’t take umbrage that the police are missing from the panel at this stage. I think it’s right that the board work out its own parameters first and allow the police to challenge that at a later stage. The priority is effective ­governance.”

An SPA spokeswoman said: “Police Scotland, along with other important stakeholders, has a valuable contribution to make to the review and will be participating in that respect. However, this is a review about the governance of policing and we believe it is more appropriate for the body being governed to inform that work rather than be involved in defining it.

“The reference group includes senior people with practical experience and perspectives on governance from inside.”