Scottish Labour has claimed that Police Scotland is heading for crisis, leaderless and under pressure through lack of support from the SNP Government.
This follows revelations that
- up to two thirds of the force’s most senior officers are due to retire within the next year,
- around five per cent of beat bobbies are to transfer into the control room at Dundee,
- barely half of Scotland’s 17,000 police officers are on”frontline” duties
and claims by a senior officer that the planned closures of the control rooms in Aberdeen and Inverness are simply cost cutting measures.
At the same time Michael Matheson, the SNP’s Cabinet Secretary for Justice, has been criticised for his failure to meet Chief Constable, Sir Stephen House, since July.
Commenting on the growing crisis of confidence within Police Scotland, Scottish Labour’s Justice Spokesperson Graeme Pearson, who is a former Deputy Chief Constable, said:
“Every day brings more bad news about Police Scotland. The recent staff survey revealed around a third of officers wanted to quit the force. Now we find that most of the Deputy Chief Constables and Assistant Chief Constables want to do the same. That cannot be good for staff morale.
The news that in Tayside up to five per cent of beat officers are being transferred into the control room to cover gaps is also concerning.
After the report into the M9 crash, closure of the control rooms in Aberdeen and Inverness was put on hold. Now we hear from the Association of Police Superintendents that the reason behind the closure plans is not strategic, simply financial, a way to save money.
And still not a word from Chief Constable, Sir Stephen House, who seems to have disappeared after announcing his intention to step down leaving Police Scotland leaderless.
It is also remarkable that Michael Matheson, who has political responsibility for Police Scotland, has had no meetings with Sir Stephen since the summer. That is a dereliction of duty. Last week the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, declared he had her “full confidence,” well he doesn’t have mine and I suspect there will be many in communities across Scotland,worried about the levels of policing in their area, who will feel the same way.
It is clear, too many police officers are sitting in offices instead of out in their communities. Police reform was supposed to deliver a new way of working across law enforcement. If this is an example of how it is done under the SNP then it’s time for a change of government.”