Stephen House expected to exit Police Scotland

Chief Constable Sir Stephen House. Picture: Scottish Parliament

Chief Constable Sir Stephen House. Picture: Scottish Parliament

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SCOTLAND’s most senior police officer is expected to step down next year after admitting he is “unlikely” to renew his contract.

Sir Stephen House came in for criticism at the Scottish Police Federation conference earlier this week, with Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie calling on him to “change his ways” or go.

If at the start of Police Scotland, people had said ‘This is what you would achieve, this is where you would have got things wrong’, then I would have taken where we are.

Stephen House

But Sir Stephen, 57, said he was pleased with his record in charge of Police Scotland, the national force which marked its second anniversary on

Wednesday.

He said: “If at the start of Police Scotland, people had said ‘This is what you would achieve, this is where you would have got things wrong’, then I would have taken where we are.”

But the chief constable said he was “unlikely” to stay in post when the third year of his contract is up next year.

He said: “September 2016 will get me to somewhere like 35-and-a-half years in policing, probably a fair innings.

“The idea of me applying for a second contract is unlikely.”

Sir Stephen has come under increasing pressure in recent months over his handling of controversies such as armed policing and stop-search.

At a Scottish Police Federation (SPF) conference earlier this week, opposition MSPs and rank-and-file officers rounded on him for his leadership of the national force.

Mr Rennie said politicians had “too often” been told one thing by the force’s leadership on a list of controversial issues only to discover they were “untrue”.

Meanwhile, Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy said the chief constable had been “headstrong” and had helped create a Metropolitan Police-style “targets culture”.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon gave Sir Stephen her backing but said no chief constable could be allowed to become a “law unto himself”. Asked about the response at the conference, Sir Stephen said: “Have I ever felt the support of rank and file via the SPF conference? No.

“Is it a highly politicised event where SPF office-holders get to show how hard a time they give the chief constable? Yes it is.”

Mr Rennie called on the chief constable to use his remaining time in the post to return his force to “policing by consent”.

Mr Rennie said: “I expected him to leave anyway, so it’s not a huge surprise. The thing he needs to do now is strip out the targets and the KPIs (key performance indicators) which go against the vast bulk of Scottish policing culture.

“My plea is to use his last period in the job to return to a culture of policing by consent.”

Asked about Sir Stephen’s successor, he said: “I want to see the Scottish Police Authority taking control of this. I want to see a chief constable who knows who he is accountable to, somebody who returns us to the traditional Scottish policing model of policing by consent.”

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