'˜No crisis' in Police Scotland, says top officer

Scotland's most senior police officer has denied his force is in crisis following claims in a BBC documentary that a former chief constable tried to suppress corruption allegations.

Former Lothian and Borders Police assistant chief constable Iain Livingstone is now the frontrunner for the top police job in Scotland

Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone told a meeting of the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) board that Police Scotland’s successes had been “completely absent” from the programme screened on Monday night.

The BBC Scotland investigation, titled A Force in Crisis, claimed former Chief Constable Sir Stephen House threatened to bury a 2014 report unless the word “remains” was changed to “existed” in a section about anxiety and uncertainty among staff.

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The programme also re-visited a sexual assault allegation made against Mr Livingstone in 2003 which was not pursued by prosecutors but resulted in him being temporarily demoted from superintendent to constable following a disciplinary hearing.

Addressing the SPA meeting in Stirling yesterday, Mr Livingstone said: “I have previously stated that I do not recognise any element of crisis within Scottish policing.

“I’m utterly committed to doing everything I can to ensure Police Scotland works with our own people and our fellow members of the public to ensure we deliver the best police service. It’s also important to recognise, which seemed to be completely absent from the programme, that since 2013 Police Scotland has achieved a great deal. Has everything gone smoothly? No. Have mistakes been made? Yes. But we acknowledge and we learn from them.”

SPA chair Susan Deacon said she wanted to give an “absolute assurance” that any allegations of corruption would be fully investigated.

She added: “On the back of the specific allegations contained in the BBC programme that were subsequently discussed in parliament, the chief officer of the SPA contacted Police Scotland and we have now received a full written response and assurances that those largely historical issues have been dealt with.

“I think it’s utterly irresponsible and unsubstantiated in terms of the evidence to say we have a police service that is in crisis.”

Former justice secretary Kenny MacAskill was among those defending Mr Livingstone yesterday following renewed media interest in the 2003 disciplinary proceedings.

He said: “Iain Livingstone is an outstanding police officer who is hugely respected. This is a minor issue from years ago which has been dealt with through proper procedures”

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “This matter was subject to due process by Lothian and Borders Police and was formally concluded under police regulations 14 years ago. A hearing concluded that there was no sexual impropriety or intent on Mr Livingstone’s part and he has nothing further to add.”