Call For Early Report On Police Scotland

8 November 2015, 06:00

A national review of police governance must report before next year's Scottish Parliament election, Labour has said.

A national review of police governance must report before next year's Scottish Parliament election, Labour has said.

The party's justice spokesman Graeme Pearson, who published the findings of his own review last week, said the issue was too important to be "kicked in to the long grass''.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the measure in September, pledging to learn from the early operation of Police Scotland and watchdog the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) to strengthen the system.

The national police force has been hit by a series of controversies, with independent investigations under way into the death in custody of Fife man Sheku Bayoh and officers' failure to respond to reports of a fatal crash on the M9 in Stirlingshire.

Mr Pearson's review made 10 recommendations for change, including the need for parliamentary oversight of all emergency services, resources to meet local need and a ''more robust`` SPA.

The former senior police officer said these had been submitted to Justice Secretary Michael Matheson, Police Scotland Chief Constable Sir Stephen House and the SPA.

Mr Pearson said: "It's more than two months since the First Minister announced a review of policing in Scotland.

"In that time I have travelled the country speaking to officers and staff who tell me about the real problems in our Police Service which we must address urgently.

"My set of recommendations will start the process of rebuilding public trust and faith in our police force.

"The SNP Government's policing review is not something they can kick into the long grass until after the Holyrood election.

"Public confidence in our police service is essential; we cannot go into an election without a rigorous examination of what has gone wrong, and a clear plan for the way ahead.''

The SNP said it was standing up for local policing in contrast to the situation in England and Wales, where six Police and Crime Commissioners have threatened legal action over proposals for cuts to police budgets.

SNP MSP Roderick Campbell said: "While the Tories threaten local policing in England, Labour in Scotland has abandoned support for the Scottish Government's commitment to 1,000 additional police officers.

"And while we know the Tories want more cuts, Labour has failed to set out a credible alternative that ends cuts to public services.

"It is increasingly clear that the SNP is the only party with a credible plan to end austerity, invest in public services and stand up for local policing.''