Stephen House defends Police Scotland after criticism

Police Scotland's chief constable, Sir Stephen House. Picture: Andrew Cowan

Police Scotland's chief constable, Sir Stephen House. Picture: Andrew Cowan

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THE creation of Scotland’s national police force has ended a “postcode lottery” approach to fighting crime, according to its chief constable.

Sir Stephen House and Vic Emery, chairman of the Scottish Police Authority, said the establishment of Police Scotland had left the service on a stronger footing.

The pair released a joint statement amid growing criticism of the force following high-profile controversies over stop and search and the deaths of Lamara Bell and John Yuill following a crash on the M9 last month.

On Wednesday, former SNP leader Gordon Wilson called for “root and branch” reform, with Police Scotland reorganised on a federal basis by re-establishing regional forces.

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But in the statement released yesterday, Sir Stephen and Mr Emery said the nature of crime had changed, making a single structure more responsive to international threats such as cybercrime. They said: “Advocating a return to regional forces appears to be based on the presumption that genuine local police responsiveness can only be delivered by multi-force structures.

“It also underestimates the fact that Scotland is a small country dealing with global and online threats that respect few borders or boundaries.

“In the last two years we have witnessed an end to the postcode lotteries of approach in areas like domestic abuse and child protection that existed under legacy arrangements. Police resources are being deployed to meet everyday needs and demands without the bureaucracy of protracted mutual aid agreements.

“This could be to support a murder investigation which would have significantly impacted local community policing resources for weeks, sometimes months, or for our larger-scale events such as the Commonwealth Games or the Ryder Cup.

“The benefits of equal access to specialist resource have ensured partners have easier access to us, with the ease of working with a single organisation rather than the eight previous forces.”

But Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokeswoman Alison McInnes said: “This is astonishing. The Chief Constable and the chairman of the SPA are acting as spokespeople for the Scottish Government when they should be fixing the problems created by the reforms. The primary responsibility of the SPA chairman is to hold the Chief Constable to account. It is staggering that they have both deemed it appropriate to issue a joint statement where they are hand in hand in arguing all is well.”

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