Nepotism and favouritism risk affecting the career prospects of officers working for Police Scotland, it has been claimed.
The Association of Scottish Police Superintendents (ASPS) said the early years of Scotland’s national force, which was formed in 2013, had been characterised by an over-reliance on “being known” and “who you know”.
ASPS, a staff association for senior officers, said the policy risked encouraging favouritism and nepotism.
However, it said the situation had improved “drastically” under the leadership of Chief Constable Iain Livingstone.
It also raised concerns over the number of senior posts based in the Central Belt, potentially putting off candidates from elsewhere in the country.
In a letter to the Scottish Parliament’s justice sub-committee on policing, Chief Superintendent Ivor Marshall, ASPS’ president, said: “Unfortunately, during the early years of Police Scotland there has been an over-reliance on ‘being known’ and ‘who you know’ which has inherent risks of face-ism (face fits or doesn’t fit), favouritism or nepotism.
“ASPS firmly believes that every officer should be afforded fair and equitable access to development support and in so doing, the very best officers will be able, at the appropriate time, to populate the crucial senior operational leadership roles of superintendent and chief superintendent.”
Since the country’s eight regional forces were merged to form Police Scotland in 2013, most of the senior posts have been based at Tulliallan in Fife, Dalmarnock in Glasgow and at the Scottish Crime Campus at Gartcosh in North Lanarkshire.
Mr Marshall said that meant pursuing promotion would be “too disruptive and unpalatable” for many.
But speaking to The Scotsman, he said: “The promotion processes are drastically better than they were in the first couple of years of Police Scotland. There has been a significant change of culture and posture at the top of the organisation.”
Deputy Chief Constable Fiona Taylor said: “We are committed to empowering, enabling and developing our officers and staff as we build a modern workforce that meets the future demands placed on Scottish policing.
“Under our new People Strategy, we will develop leaders at all levels, ensuring they are inclusive, approachable and supportive in their personal leadership.”