Does the cluster of problems around Police Scotland suggest it’s time to rethink the single force strategy?
In the last few days, Police Scotland has revealed it will have a £22 million “underspend” this year, despite ageing vehicles, stations in poor repair, fewer officers than ever on response policing and restrictions on overtime. The force was also forced to confirm recruiting nearly 800 informants in three years and had to concede officers are leaving the British Transport Police ahead of its controversial integration into Police Scotland by 2019.
Meanwhile, at the weekend, the body of a Bo’ness man reported missing four weeks ago was finally found after a massive search effort – in his own home.
Last month Police Scotland had to apologise after the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc) found officers did not respond properly to four calls from the public about Andrew Bow, a young man with Asperger’s Syndrome, whose flat was a short walk from an Edinburgh police station. When officers were finally sent, they found Mr Bow dead.
Pirc heard from staff in the Bilston Glen control room that “urgent” calls could remain “un-actioned” for days. The same control room failed properly to process a call from the public in 2015 after a crash near the M9. Three days later John Yuill was found dead – and his partner Lamara Bell died in hospital.
Despite call handling problems at Bilston Glen, other control rooms in Aberdeen and Inverness are closing, with their command and control responsibilities shifted to Dundee. Police stations have also been closing – though maybe not at the rate highlighted this weekend in England and Wales where public counters at 40 per cent of stations closed over the last decade.
Still, in 2014 Police Scotland revealed 60 frontline police stations across Scotland would close their doors to the public and added a further 58 buildings across Scotland to the “possible closure” list last year.
Meanwhile, Police Scotland has trouble at the top. Less than two years after the inaugural Chief Constable Sir Stephen House stepped down after the M9 crash, his replacement, Phil Gormley, is the subject of an investigation into bullying allegations made by a senior colleague.
Read more at: http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/lesley-riddoch-what-is-wrong-at-police-scotland-1-4524197