Rank and file officers ‘scunnered’ by treatment in Police Scotland

Police Scotland staff are 'scunnered'. Picture: John Devlin
Police Scotland staff are 'scunnered'. Picture: John Devlin
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The low number of Police Scotland officers raising grievances shows a “fundamental lack of confidence” in the force’s complaints procedures, it has been claimed.

The Scottish Police Federation (SPF) said many officers were “scunnered” because their working conditions are regularly “disregarded and ignored”.

The comments came as justice secretary Michael Matheson admitted the decision of Chief Constable Phil Gormley to take a leave of absence would create “uncertainty” in the force.

Mr Gormley announced his decision on Friday as it emerged the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc) was set to investigate a second bullying allegation made against him.

Ahead of a meeting of Holyrood’s justice sub-committee on policing tomorrow – which Mr Gormley had been due to attend – the SPF highlighted a recent staff survey in which only eight per cent of police officers said they believed the service was genuinely interested in their wellbeing.

In a written submission to the committee – which will take evidence on Police Scotland’s procedures for internal complaints, including grievances and whistleblowing – SPF general secretary Calum Steele said: “Against this it is telling that so very few police officers raise grievances and rather than be considered as a sign of positivity, this suggests a fundamental lack of confidence in the processes that are there.

“At this time many police officers are simply ‘scunnered’. They experience their working conditions being regularly disregarded and ignored.”

The comments came as Mr Matheson addressed Holyrood on the current situation at the top of Police Scotland.

The justice secretary said: “I recognise that these investigations and (the chief constable’s) absence will create a degree of uncertainty.

“I am therefore pleased that Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone has reconsidered his plans to retire in the Autumn and will continue in post to provide leadership to Police Scotland in the chief constable’s absence.

“DCC Livingstone’s own assessment of the leadership situation is that Police Scotland has a strong and resilient command team in place who are supported by thousands of dedicated and hard-working police officers and staff who remain committed to providing an excellent service.”

Mr Matheson also confirmed he had asked officials to explore ways in which parliament could be involved in the appointment of the new chair of the Scottish Police Authority.

Commenting on the concerns raised by the SPF, Mr Livingstone said: “Police Scotland investigates all complaints by officers and staff robustly and has improved the complaints process, in particular the online confidential reporting system Integrity Matters.

“We fully recognise the importance of supporting our staff and ensuring we provide for their welfare and whilst there are well-established 
support services available to officers, staff and immediate families, we are investing heavily in a staff wellbeing programme which is currently being rolled out across the force.”