Watchdog says Police Scotland ‘ignoring concerns’ over tactics

Andrew Flanagan, Chair of the Scottish Police Authority has recommended numerous changes to the force's governing procedures. Picture: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament
Andrew Flanagan, Chair of the Scottish Police Authority has recommended numerous changes to the force's governing procedures. Picture: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament
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POLICE Scotland has repeatedly failed to listen to local concerns over issues such as stop-search and armed officers, according to a new report.

A review of policing by the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) said there was a perception the wishes of local communities had been regularly “overridden” to create a uniform national approach to tackling crime.

Published yesterday, the review was undertaken at the request of the Scottish Government following a number of high-profile controversies affecting the national force since its creation in 2013.

Andrew Flanagan, chair of the SPA, said there was an “overriding perception” on issues such as stop-search, armed officers and the closure of police offices that local communities are “not being listened to”.

He also said local police commanders did not have enough autonomy to make local decisions, and recommended greater consideration be given to the policing needs of local communities.

He said: “While an aspiration of equality of service is commendable, any policy or practice must ensure that it is capable of being adapted in its implementation to make it more appropriate for local needs. In this regard, where possible, local commanders should be given more autonomy on how policies and practices are implemented while also achieving the overall policing aim.”

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Mr Flanagan’s report said a number of local authorities were unclear about how Police Scotland had taken their views into account when making decisions.

The report made a total of 30 recommendations and called for a clearer definition of the SPA’s responsibilities.

The watchdog has repeatedly been accused of playing “catch-up” on major issues such as armed policing and stop-search.

But Mr Flanagan said the current structure of a police authority at arms-length from government was a “good one”.

However, he said Police Scotland must accept a “greater degree of scrutiny” and said the SPA needed to be allowed to be a “proactive” rather than “reactive”.

Commenting on the publication of the review, Chief Superintendent Andrew Morris said: “Police Scotland welcomes the publication of the SPA’s review of governance in policing and is committed to working with the SPA to enhance the effectiveness and local accountability of policing across Scotland.”

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