Chief Constable’s Comments – 6 June 2023


Like most I was gobsmacked by the Chiefs statement that Police Scotland was institutionally racist, never mind similarly afflicted with sexism and misogyny. Despite the seriousness of the allegations, no significant evidence was produced, nor action detailed to address it.

Instead, it seems to have been a final salvo as the Chief heads off into retirement but leaving rank and file officers to live with the consequences. Officers already have to deal with allegations, let alone abuse, from those with a grudge against the uniform, without being undermined, if not besmirched, by those in charge of their organisation.

As Justice Secretary from 2007-14 no Chief Constable or indeed anyone of any rank or from any organisation within either Police Scotland or the predecessor Regional Constabularies suggested that; nor did I ever have reason to consider that it was. I believe that it has been the same for my successors, as they’d have raised it.

So, when did this affliction apparently befall the service. The Chief has been in situ for 6 years and in senior positions within Police Scotland since its inception in 2013. Did it just sneak up on him? Was it hiding in the walls of Tulliallan and it’s only now that’s he’s noticed. It all seems truly bizarre and to suggest that it has nothing to do with officers is even dafter. It can’t just have materialised out of thin air and into the service, if it exists then it is within and must come from individuals.

But I just don’t believe it. That‘s not to say there aren’t a few racist officers and others with sexist and misogynistic views. But that’s the same in all walks of life, politics and press are similarly challenged, and other institutions such as the civil or health service are likewise. That’s why rigorous recruitment to root out such individuals is necessary and if they slip through the net, then they need rooted out. Guidance and directions on wider behaviour’s also given and disciplinary actions can follow.

Failures in enforcement, and there have been a few recently, are down to management or leadership failures. That’s where blames lies, not collectively, or institutionally. They should be resolved, and action taken.

There are significant challenges facing the service which the Chief should have spoken out on. A tightening budget, a crumbling estate, reduced officer numbers and increased stress and unhappiness in the job are all to the fore and need tackled. Less are having to do more, with equipment and premises that are dated and sometimes not fit for purpose. At the same time whether cyber crime or the increased anti-social behaviour post Covid officers are being run ragged.

Standing up for the service as he departed would have been more useful than throwing in a toxic statement leaving those still there to mop up the mess, along with those increased demands already confronting them.