Police force remains ‘strong and resilient’

Police Scotland’s deputy chief constable has said policing remains “strong and resilient” despite a series of complaints against senior officers.

Iain Livingstone will appear before MSPs on Holyrood’s justice committee today alongside Susan Deacon, chair of the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) board.

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Ahead of the meeting, Mr Livingstone said Police Scotland compared “favourably” with any police service anywhere in the world.

Chief Constable Phil Gormley has been on leave since September while the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc) looks into allegations of bullying.

Last week the Pirc began a fourth investigation into Scotland’s most senior police officer, who continues to collect his £214,000 salary.

There are also separate criminal and misconduct allegations against Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins.

Both officers deny any wrongdoing. Meanwhile, a complaint against Mr Livingstone has reportedly been “deferred” until the conclusion of an employment tribunal involving a serving officer.

In a written submission to MSPs, Mr Livingstone said: “Five years ago we embarked upon a generational programme of change which we are very much still on and will continue for years to come.

“Police Scotland as a single service is still relatively young, as is SPA.” He added: “Issues around governance and accountability rightly need debated and developed further, but the day-to-day service provided by the men and women of Police Scotland compares favourably to any police service in the world. Policing in Scotland is strong, resilient and being delivered every minute of every day by dedicated and effective individuals across every rank and role in our service.”

Former SPA chair Andrew Flanagan is due to appear before MSPs later this week after it emerged the board had approved Mr Gormley’s return to work in November before an “intervention” by justice secretary Michael Matheson.

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Concerns have been raised that no minutes were taken during the meeting.

Yesterday the Scottish Conservatives said it was clear from the Ministerial Code of Conduct that the meeting should have been recorded.

Shadow justice secretary Liam Kerr said: “It’s quite clear from the Scottish Government’s own advice that meetings which deal with substantive government business should be minuted. If a meeting to discuss the future of Scotland’s chief constable isn’t a substantial piece of government business, I don’t know what is.”