Stephen House is first Chief Constable of Scotland
STEPHEN House has been named as the first ever Chief Constable of Scotland. The 54-year-old will become the most powerful police officer in Scottish history, on a salary of £208,100 a year, when the new service is launched in April.
He has been a long-term supporter of the need for a single force in Scotland, but warned “there are changes to make and these will not be easy”.
Mr House was widely tipped for the post, although he did unsuccessfully apply to be the head of the Metropolitan Police – where he previously served as assistant commissioner – last year.
He was appointed by a board chaired by the new Scottish
Police Authority chairman, Vic Emery, including Leslie Evans, the Scottish Government’s
director-general of learning and justice, former Lord Advocate Dame Elish Angiolini and Sue Bruce, chief executive of the City of Edinburgh Council.
Mr House will start work this autumn, although an official leaving date has not been negotiated with Strathclyde Police.
“The priority for the new service will be to continue keeping people safe in Scotland and there will be no let up on the work to tackle organised criminality, violence and all the other issues which are of concern to our communities,” Mr House said.
“Local policing is a vital part of this and I am determined that it will be at the heart of the
Police Service of Scotland ethos.
“There are changes to make and these will not be easy. We need to organise ourselves better. We need to tackle inconsistencies in national systems and procedures, while backing the local discretion of commanders to deal with local issues.
“I am proud of the achievements that have been made in tackling crime in recent years and I look forward to working with and learning from my colleagues from other forces to bring these together and provide the best possible service for the Scottish public.”
Among the challenges facing the single force, and particularly Mr House, will be aligning eight systems into one, balancing community policing and national strategy, and maintaining the Scottish Government’s pledge to put 1,000 additional officers on the streets while also hitting savings targets.
The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos) recently revealed that it had spent £7.7 million on an IT “performance platform” that never saw the light of day.
The Scottish Government has said reform of the police should save £1.7 billion over 15 years, but police chiefs have questioned whether the hoped for savings will be achievable in the short term.
Other candidates for the post included Sir Hugh Orde, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers in England and Wales; Justine Curran, chief of Tayside; David Strang, who heads Lothian and Borders; and Colin McKerracher, of Grampian, who was one of the strongest voices opposing Mr House during the debate over whether Scotland should move to a single force.
Martin Greig, convener of Grampian Joint Police Board, said Mr McKerracher should have been chosen.
“I’m extremely worried about the future direction of the Police Service of Scotland,” he said. “The Scottish Government has set the new chief constable an impossible task of catering to the policing needs of every community right across Scotland.
“A community policing model like Grampian’s is vital and it’s a concern this may not happen.”
A national service was opposed in Grampian and the Highlands, as well as by the Scottish Liberal Democrats.
However, Mr Emery said: “This is a historic moment in Scottish policing and together we have an opportunity to shape both the operational delivery of policing and the governance of policing to meet the complex challenges of the 21st century, and deliver improved outcomes for the people of Scotland.
“We recognise and welcome the huge responsibility we have been given.”
Kenny MacAskill, the justice secretary, added: “Stephen House has the skills and experience to lead the service as we embark on this new era. I am confident he will be an outstanding first Chief Constable. He has an impressive track record of leadership, partnership working and delivery.
“Mr House will inherit a police service which is performing excellently – crime is at a 37-year low, assisted by over 1,000 additional officers we have delivered in communities since 2007.”
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Monday 20 May 2013
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