Police Scotland plans to no longer investigate every reported crime from April a 'source of shame' for Scottish Government ministers

The proposed rollout by Police Scotland comes after a pilot around minor crimes was trialled in the north east

Plans by Police Scotland to no longer investigate every crime reported to them from April have been described as a “source of shame” for ministers.

The wider rollout appears set to be given the green light after a pilot run in the north east, in which some minor crimes were not investigated, was rated a success by the force.

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Under the proposed move, thousands of ‘minor’ offences, such as vandalism or anti-social behaviour, could be written off.

Police Scotland would not investigate some low level crimes under the proposed plan. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PAPolice Scotland would not investigate some low level crimes under the proposed plan. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA
Police Scotland would not investigate some low level crimes under the proposed plan. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA

Police chiefs view the move, which could mean as many as one in 20 crimes not being taken forward, as allowing rank-and-file officers to concentrate on more serious crimes.

The approach is poised to start nationwide from April. Police Scotland deputy chief constable Malcolm Graham said results from the pilot in the Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire areas had been “positive”, claiming the force had been “able to better manage victim and public expectation”.

Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary, Russell Findlay said "the only winners are the criminals” from the proposed rollout.

He said: “Savage and sustained SNP cuts and their weak justice agenda have left police numbers at their lowest since 2008, with officers now unable to investigate certain crimes.

“It should be a source of shame for ministers that this dangerous pilot scheme looks set to be rolled out across Scotland.

“The public are not even being told what crimes will not be investigated nor how these decisions will be made. Our hard-working police officers did not sign up for this. Communities don't deserve it."

Chief constable Jo Farrell told a public board meeting of the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) in Glasgow: “What this seeks to do is look at alternative approaches to the way in which we investigate and manage crime, much with a focus in relation to the experience of the victim, a wider focus around efficiency, and the victim experience.

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“What it is not is a policy of non-investigation. So I just wanted to be clear that we are committed to investigating crimes, but we want the reporting of those crimes to be easy to do and for those investigations to be proportionate and appropriate.”

But David Threadgold, chairman of the Scottish Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, said: "This strategy is being driven purely by finance and not by basic policing principles – and that’s a problem.”

It was revealed on Thursday that Police Scotland’s projected overspend for the financial year had shrunk from almost £19 million to around £5m.

Police Scotland’s chief financial officer James Gray told the same SPA meeting the force had spent 88 per cent of its annual budget for the financial year by the end of December, and was “tracking now to deliver a balanced budget for capital”.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said of the proposed pilot expansion: “The Proportionate Response to Crime pilot concluded on November 20, 2023, we have undertaken a full evaluation and we are now engaging with partner organisations before considering next steps.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: "It is vital Police Scotland continues to inspire public trust and maintains relationships with local communities. This will be crucial when the results of this pilot are examined to ensure local priorities continue to be met with no detriment to communities."