THE POWERS of Scotland’s police chief must be properly set down with strong checks and balances, Willie Rennie will demand as he vows the Lib Dems will improve links between officers and the communities they serve.
Mr Rennie will use his speech to the Scottish Liberal Democrat conference in Dunfermline to call for people to “have a say in how our police force is run”.
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The Liberal Democrat leader has criticised Police Scotland over its use of stop-and-search powers, and the decision to have armed police on routine patrols - a policy the force has now abandoned.
Mr Rennie is expected to tell Liberal Democrat activists: “A police force with no democracy is no police force for a democracy.
“The relationship between our communities and our police is something we must cherish. And something Liberal Democrats will make stronger.”
His speech comes the day after Kenny MacAskill was ousted as justice secretary, with Michael Matheson taking over the role in First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s Cabinet.
Mr Rennie will tell the conference that Liberal Democrat Holyrood justice spokeswoman Alison McInnes has “rightly called for the powers of the chief constable to be set down, for the checks and balances to be strong, for people to have a say in how our police force is run”.
The party leader has already questioned Ms Sturgeon on the use of stop-and-search powers by the police, and will tell the conference: “We now know stop-and-search is seven times higher in Scotland than south of the border.
“But just this week Edinburgh University highlighted that police carrying guns used stop-and-search powers 8,000 times in just one year.
“That’s over 150 searches every week by officers carrying guns on routine duties.
“Now the chief constable has taken all armed officers off routine duties. However, that decision could be reversed at any moment. Without notice and without consultation. We know, because that’s what happened last time.”
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