Scottish police equality probe should be 'priority', says Humza Yousaf

Justice secretary Humza Yousaf has said an independent review into equality issues in Police Scotland should be "prioritised”.

A report into Police Scotland's complaints handling was published last year

He raised concerns on Monday over the impact of any "discrimination or unconscious bias" after a hard-hitting report last year by former Lord Advocate Dame Elish Angiolini.

The review into improving police complaints handling, investigations and misconduct issues raised concerns over discriminatory attitudes within the force.

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It called for an independent review into equality issues within Police Scotland that Chief Constable Iain Livingstone has pledged to carry out.

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Mr Yousaf told Holyrood's Justice sub-committee the findings of the report had to be addressed.

"I found them to be quite stark, quite difficult to read," he said.

"I have family members who are in Police Scotland, they are from ethnic minority backgrounds."

The minister said he speaks often to Semper Scotland, which represents ethnic minority officers.

"They have at times raised with me concerns around a variety of matters,” he said. “I know they've raised them directly with the Chief Constable and I've also raised them directly with the Chief Constable, but nothing quite to the level of what we read in Dame Elish's report.”

Mr Yousaf said establishing the review would be a matter for the force itself.

But he said: "All of us have an interest in ensuring Police Scotland rids itself of any discrimination, whether that's structural, whether that's overt or whether that's unconscious bias that exists.

"I've been heartened by the response not just of the Chief Constable and the SPA, which was swift and decisive, but also the staff associations, the LGBTI organisations, the Scottish Women's Development Forum, Semper Scotland and a number of the others have pledged to work with Police Scotland to realise that outcome.

"So I think an independent – I must stress that word independent – external review of these matters is absolutely imperative.”

He added: "I do think this is an area that has to be prioritised."

Mr Livingstone previously said after Dame Elish’s report was published that racism and discrimination of any kind is “deplorable and unacceptable”.

He said: “I intend to commission additional, independent, and expert support to work with policing in Scotland to better understand the experiences of minority groups in the service and to ensure appropriate support is available where it is required.”

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