A major review of Scotland’s policing strategy has been launched by the Scottish Government with a focus on “open and transparent” governance of the force.
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf says the “time is right” to look again at the priorities of the national force which came into existence in 2013, as a consultation was launched in the strategic police priorities (SPP) for Scotland.
Police Scotland has faced controversy in recent years over its governance under the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), amid concerns over “secrecy and bullying”. A new regime has been installed at the body under former health minister Susan Deacon in an effort to draw a line under the problems.
“Following our commitment in the 2018-19 Programme for Government, the time is right for this review,” Mr Yousaf said in a consultation on the new strategy.
“The current SPPs have now been in place for nearly 3 years, during which time the policing system has continued to develop. Leadership and governance has been strengthened in the SPA and Police Scotland.
“Implementation of the ten year policing strategy Serving a Changing Scotland is delivering major transformational change that will address emerging and future challenges and will ensure that effective partnership working supports the most vulnerable in our society.”
The strategic police priorities do not direct day to day policing for officer, but set a “high level” direction for policing and the way that SPA functions are carried out.
Discussions have taken place with the SPA, Police Scotland and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) to develop the revised strategic policing plan. The Police Investigation and Review Commissioner (PIRC) was also consulted, along with representatives from the Scottish Police Federation and the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents.
Among the key themes which emerged were reinforcing the importance of an of an “open and transparent governance framework for the police service.”
The SPA faced widespread criticism under previous chairman Andrew Flanagan, with MSPs raising concerns over its transparency and governance two years ago. The high profile resignation of board member Moi Ali, amid a row over meetings being held behind closed doors, prompted alarm bells.
Former HM Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland Derek Penman stepped in at the time to call for most meetings to be held in public as part of an ongoing review of the SPA.
The proposed priorities set out in the consultation focus on crime and security, confidence, partnerships and sustainability, as well as people and evidence.